The government is quietly planning for "smart cash machines"

 
Jessica Morris
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Cash machines could be about to get a lot smarter (Source: Getty)

The government is quietly preparing for the rise of so-called "smart ATMs" which will allow people to manage all aspects of their finances from a cash point.

The machines currently being developed by the government let customers "deposit as well as withdraw cash". But the technology has the potential to allow customers to print statements, pay-in cheques and pay bills as well as transfer money.

They could be the final nail in the coffin for the dwindling number of high street bank branches across the UK, which are already struggling as online banking becomes more popular.

"The government wants all customers to be able to deposit as well as withdraw cash from intelligent cash machines, and is working with Link and its members to explore how the required changes can be made," it said.

Link is a not-for-profit membership association which oversees the governance of such transactions in the UK.

Smart ATMs would have to comply with Link's rules covering issues such as how transactions are made, how customer data is kept secure, and how any charges that apply are made clear to customers.

But the intelligent machines could be a boon for the host of challenger banks without local branches. Many are currently battling to attract customers away from the "big four": Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS.

"This will lower barriers to entry and level the playing field, by allowing banks with smaller (or no) branch networks to provide a more comprehensive service for their customers," the government paper said.

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