September 28, 2007

Patented Technology Enables ATMs to Dispense Gift Cards

Better ATM Services of Mesa, Arizona has patented a technology that enables existing ATMs to dispense prepaid gift cards like cash without the use of a sidecar. The technology relies on a plastic card sheet that consists of three panels and having a size similar to larger foreign currency like the Danish konar. Existing ATM cassettes can easily be adjusted to accommodate the larger currencies or the plastic card sheets without any additional cost. Presently, Better ATM Services is piloting the system at several locations in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

On the face of it this sounds like a brilliant idea. People don’t have to wait in line to securely purchase gift cards or wait for it to be shipped to them. For businesses, it is another distribution channel that allows them to generate additional income without substantial investment or cost in new equipment. Furthermore, this technology can be used to dispense other types of prepaid cards, such as phone cards, gas cards, transit cards, etc.

However, from a consumer’s perspective there are numerous questions that needs to be addressed first before I think this technology will be beneficial. Will consumers have to pay for an ATM usage fee? Do you have to use a debit/ATM card or can you use a credit card to make purchases? Potentially any of these negative factors could hinder the adoption of this technology by consumers. Hopefully, most ATM owners will waive the fees for purchasers and focus on generating revenue from the merchant’s commission.

Scottsdale company debuts gift-card-dispensing ATMs [Business Journal, Phoenix]
Company turns ATMs into gift card dispensers [East Valley Tribune]

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