Current ATM Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic response forced a sudden change in consumer behaviors and in ATM marketing. Stuck at home and advised to avoid in-person interactions, most Americans turned to the internet to fulfill their needs. Video streaming service use increased by more than twelve percent. Online grocery ordering and delivery services took off, and general e-commerce transactions increased forty-three percent from 2019 into 2020.

However, entertainment and shopping weren’t the only behaviors affected by mass closures and stay-at-home orders. With brick-and-mortar banking branches experiencing temporary closures, account holders were forced to adopt new ways to manage their finances – online and mobile banking.

Over the course of eighteen months, online and mobile banking usage took off like never before. Nearly
half (44%) of account holders between 18 and 34 enrolled in a remote banking service during the
pandemic. However, demographics who traditionally relied on branches took advantage of their bank and credit union’s remote banking options, too. By mid-April of 2021, mobile banking registrations had
reached a daily average of over two hundred percent higher than a year prior.

Will pandemic behaviors stick?

Many retail establishments counted on consumers returning to the stores once pandemic lockdowns
eased. However, stores such as Walmart, Target, and even the smaller grocery chain, Kroger, decided not
to take the risk. Instead, they opted to hedge their bets and invest heavily in creating a robust online
platform integrated with their physical locations. And, as COVID responses eased, those investments
have proven themselves well made.

Even as in-person shopping has begun to pick back up, over half of consumers (67%) report shopping
more online than they did pre-pandemic. Online grocery shopping reached an all-time high
mid-pandemic, averaging twenty to thirty percent higher than in 2019. Post-pandemic online grocery
shopping has leveled out but remains around ten percent higher than pre-COVID levels.
Grocery is not the only group of retailers affected. Over half of consumers report shopping less at
in-person, brick-and-mortar stores. Instead, over forty percent note they are actively shopping online
more often. The result is a more balanced mix of online and in-person interactions.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)

Whether it’s the Millennials touting Dave Ramsey’s cash “envelope system” or Gen Z talking about
creating a cash stash TikTok challenge, the younger generations continue to be interested in cash. And
while cash use has declined in recent years, experts think cash use may have bottomed out in
mid-pandemic. Recent reports from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Diary of Consumer
Payment Choice show cash accounted for twenty percent of payments in October 2021, an increase from
prior years. But where are they getting all of this cash?

Consumers consider ATMs an essential part of their financial self-service ecosystem. This is especially
true of the Millennials and Generation Z. According to a recent Mercator Advisory Group survey,
consumers 18-to-34 report visiting an ATM to get cash more than seven times per month. In addition,
the same demographic uses ATMs nearly five times a month to deposit cash. Post-COVID, over a quarter of Millennials (26%) and nearly a quarter (24%) of Gen Z report self-service machines such as the ATM, ITM, or VTM as a preferred way to open an account. And, just like branch access, consumers under forty list a convenient ATM network as one of their primary considerations when seeking a new financial institution.

How can Financial Institution Marketers Leverage Self-Service?

While this mass fluctuation from physical banking to a self-service ecosystem may pose challenges for
general financial institution strategy, it is a gold mine for bank and credit union marketing. Rather than
focusing on statement stuffers, billboards, postcards, flyers, and digital in-branch boards; there is
suddenly a wealth of highly visible and interactive real estate.

ATMs in a Self-Service Ecosystem

More importantly, ATMs are one of the self-service ecosystem’s most underused marketing advantages. Operationally, they can offer distribution through surcharge-free access and 24/7 deposit-taking capabilities. For banks and credit unions combatting low foot-traffic volumes and branch closures, they can be a cost-effective solution to continue providing financial access in businesses and communities where a branch doesn’t make sense. However, beyond the operational aspects, today’s ATMs offer meaningful opportunities to attract new account holders and aid in account holder retention at a fraction of the acquisition and retention costs to which growth marketers have become accustomed. ATM marketing options are unique to each ATM partner but may include the following:

Brand presence reinforcement

Full-color branded wraps are one of the low-cost, reliable ways ATMs provide financial institution advertisers a marketing advantage. When it comes to ATM marketing there are many different styles of wraps to choose from, including vault door branding, complete machine billboards, and integrated custom surrounds. These colorful and attention-grabbing billboards remind current account holders of the advertising institution’s location, name, and convenience. They also increase brand awareness with potential account holders, especially in high-traffic areas where visitors are likely to regularly see the same bank or credit union brand name.

Increase brand viewership – to the tune of over 33 Million impressions.

Most financial institutions are already aware of the benefits of digital video advertising and have used it
regularly inside their bank branches. However, the potential reach of non-branch digital advertising is even more impressive. Retail store exposure for digital-out-of-home is estimated at 33 million views. Gas stations and convenience stores have an estimated viewership of over 31 million. ATM marketing and advertising can combine the potential reach of popular locations with the direct association to financial services such as convenient cash and account access.

Low-cost, hyper-targeted on-screen Advertising

Today’s ATM technology can go far beyond the old “look & feel.” Now, select ATM operators can provide hyper-targeted marketing opportunities to their partners. Whether it is a special message to specific account holders to improve retention or an advertisement to appeal to competing prepaid cards or financial institutions, the 1:1 impression rates and dynamic, full-color screens make the ATM a perfect
spot to advertise.

Trackable Promotions

Retailers use receipts regularly to provide coupons, rewards, and reasons to return. They are a proven, low-cost medium to improve retention and add value to the consumer. Financial institutions leveraging receipt messaging at the ATM can achieve similar results. These post-transaction messages provide an easy avenue for banks and credit unions to offer calls-to-action, loyalty programs, and promotions that help drive new account adoption and improve relationships with current account holders.

 Increase the financial institution footprint

Off-site ATMs provide a unique opportunity for banks and credit unions to provide services and brand presence in locations that impact their target communities and demographics. Convenience stores, local attractions, college campuses, or big area employers are all places where placing an ATM can help create a positive impression with the right target audience.

Mobile Banking

The pandemic response drove home to most banks and credit unions the need for robust, secure online
and mobile banking capabilities. However, few have fully realized the low cost, 1:1 acquisition, and retention marketing capabilities account holders are downloading onto their most trusted devices. Some of the simplest ways to leverage the capabilities of mobile banking applications include:

  • Catering to account holder convenience through personalization. Allow users to edit their
    account preferences directly from their smartphones. Selecting paper or digital statements
    or choosing text messaging as a contact preference are two of the easiest wins. More
    complicated features could include changing the order of viewable accounts, configurable
    notifications for incoming and outgoing funds, and basic or in-depth budgeting.
  • Take advantage of additional communication opportunities with location tracking and
    notifications. GPS tracking and mobile alerts offer some unique capabilities to financial
    institution marketers. When accepted by users, banks and credit unions have the
    opportunity to push notifications of local events, account status, and other important
    information. For more adventurous institutions, GPS can provide the opportunity to notify
    account holders of nearby surcharge-free ATMs, branches, or retail partners.
  • Generate increased brand awareness to stay top-of-mind. The most significant financial
    institution marketing benefit of mobile banking applications is the ability to place the brand
    where it is seen daily, even hourly, by account holders. However, keeping prime position on a
    user’s mobile device takes more than just getting downloaded. Today’s bank and credit
    union marketers have the opportunity to leverage the account holder experience across
    self-service channels to make sure their mobile application and their brand stay relevant and


Lastly, the post-COVID world is seeing a slow progression back to in-person interactions, consumers’
relationship with digital engagement with their financial institutions has changed permanently. The
ongoing reliance on self-service is not unique to just retail, either. Today, a self-service banking
ecosystem should balance mobile banking with off-site ATMs to further broaden the footprint of the
brick-and-mortar financial institution. Fortunately, while account holder behavior forces financial
institution operations into new paths, the future holds only greater opportunities and possibilities for
bank and credit union marketers through ATM marketing.