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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Cash machines to offer more
People at a cash machine
Will more services lead to longer queues?
Mobile top-ups and the payment of some bills could soon be available at a cash machine near you.

But the ATMs in the UK are unlikely to ever offer the range of services available on the continent.

This is the view of Nigel Wright, Operations and Development Director at Link Interchange Network, the company that provides the technology that allows banks to process shared transactions.

He told Computing magazine that Link was close to securing agreements with mobile operators to roll out top-up services at the cash machines of all the major UK banks.

Longer queues?

However UK banks are unlikely to diversify into other areas, unlike countries such as Italy and Portugal which pioneered the use of ATMs for other functions.


In the next year all the four operators will offer this service

Paolo Pescatore, IDC
"Customers in Portugal use ATMs for a broad range of services from ticketing to buying postage stamps," he told BBC News Online.

"They have been used to using ATMs like that from the beginning and also have a more laidback pace of life. In the UK people might not be so chuffed if added functionality led to longer queues," he said.

In discussions with the 50 banks and building societies that are members of Link, there was not a great deal of interest in offering ticketing, stamps or other such services, he said.

Instead banks will concentrate on allowing customers to top-up their mobile phone cards.

Orange has already launched a service that allows its customers to buy pay-as-you-go credits from Abbey National cash machines.

Widely available

Mobile analyst at IDC Paolo Pescatore thinks banks will have to ensure that they do not sign exclusive agreements with particular mobile operators.

"If they do that it will limit consumer choice so the service will have to made widely available across all banks," he said.

Another issue that will need to be resolved is whether the service will be offered free to customers.

But Mr Pescatore is confident the service will be available soon.

"In the next year all the four operators will offer this service. I'm just surprised they haven't implemented it earlier," he said.

See also:

08 Sep 02 | Business
07 May 02 | Science/Nature
29 Apr 02 | Scotland
01 Jan 02 | Business
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