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  • Writer's pictureStuart Mackinnon

Four Trends Shaping the Future of Self-Service Banking

Guest Editorial by Stuart Mackinnon, COO, NCR Atleos

Consumer preferences are changing, making the self-service channel increasingly critical for credit unions. Members want greater choice and flexibility around when, where and how they bank and access financial services, including cash. 

Stuart Mackinnon

The evolution of self-service banking began decades ago with the introduction of ATMs, transforming how members access cash outside of traditional branch visits. Self-service banking continues to rapidly evolve, driven by technological advancements and rising member expectations.


These three key trends are shaping the future of self-service banking:


  1. Branch maintenance expenses are increasing and footfall is declining. As digital usage continues its upward trajectory, credit unions are challenged with optimizing their physical footprints and reducing costs while continuing to provide their members easy and convenient access to cash and financial services. For many that means shifting the role of the branch to more of an advisory role for the 29% of members that still want to come in and complete lager transactions like a mortgage. Self-service technologies like ATMs and Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) are also helping to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

  2. The role of the ATM at the branch is evolving. ATMs were designed decades ago with a single, very specific objective in mind: to dispense cash. Much has changed since its inception, and today consumers can complete as much as 95% of everyday transactions at the ATM – from cash and check deposits to bill payments, transfers, account opening and more. With a tight integration to the core, the ATM is the physical connection point of a digital banking model and plays a vital role in the payments landscape, even as consumers continue to embrace digital banking.

  3. Banking as a Service is on the rise. Banking-as-a-Service reduces the barriers for ecommerce players and others to offer financial services and compete with traditional financial institutions. This trend is only expected to gain momentum, as it is projected to reach nearly $70 billion by 2030. Top brands that consumers, especially younger generations, already are familiar with and trust, such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, are spearheading this revolution by providing end-to-end, innovative financial products that are easy to access on their platforms.


In response to these trends, credit unions are increasingly embracing the following strategies to enhance their self-service offerings and expand access to cash:


  • Shared utility model for self-service. In this approach, credit unions can plug into a network of ATMs within trusted retail locations (grocery, convenience/fuel and big box stores), allowing members to securely withdraw – and in some instances, even deposit – cash from the convenience of where they live and shop. This is a cost-effective alternative to building new branches, extending their presence out into the community and allowing smaller credit unions to match the scale and reach of larger bank brands and the convenience of digital competitors. It’s also an effective way to ensure members of all types can easily access the financial services they need.

  • Reimagine the ATM Network. The traditional ATM deployment model can hinder operational efficiencies, which is why more credit unions are looking toward an ATM as a Service model. This allows them to rely on a trusted partner to outsource partial or complete ATM maintenance and management, offering a consistent cost structure, advanced security, and compliance support. Such an approach makes it easier and faster for credit unions to deploy ATMs where members need them while reducing costs.

  • Incorporate greater automation in the branch. Implementing smarter branch technology is an effective way to optimize physical footprints. ITMs, for example, are a versatile solution, allowing members to efficiently complete various transactions, from cash withdrawals to more complex teller-assisted tasks. This strategy enables credit unions to extend branch hours and operate more effectively while meeting the growing demand for self-directed banking in areas where full branches aren’t needed.


Self-service technologies help solidify credit unions’ position in the financial lives of their members and communities, expanding access to financial services and cash while helping them compete with emerging competitors. Such strategies also enable credit unions to operate more efficiently and expand their presence without the hefty overhead of new standalone branches. Credit unions can and should invest in technology and strategies that optimize their physical footprints to align with member preferences and business needs, prioritizing ways to enable both digital to physical and physical to digital transactions.


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