The concept of money is getting increasingly abstract, what with credit and debit cards. NCR Corp., which makes about 30% of the world's automated teller machines, is about to take the notion of cash one step further: ATMs near you may soon accept cash-withdrawal requests via mobile phones and Palm Pilots.
NCR is developing software that would let ATMs operate on commands received over infrared and Bluetooth wireless links. Mel Walter, mobility program director at NCR, says the ATMs will debut late next year, most likely in Europe, where cell-phone usage is more prevalent than in the United States. More people--at least 10% of the mobile-phone population--need to be yapping on Bluetooth-equipped phones to make it feasible, he says.
Initially, NCR will retrofit existing teller machines with the software, but the company is also developing a screenless, keyless ATM shaped like an egg. Called Freedom, it will let consumers withdraw cash after typing a request into a PDA or mobile phone.
Customers will enter a personal identification number on the handheld device and point it at the ATM. Walter says major wireless providers, eager to boost usage, have responded enthusiastically to the concept.