Moving more and increasingly complex payments capabilities to ATMs and away from bank branches is a good thing, as we’ve argued before with ATM ApplePay and with MasterCard’s patent application to turn ATMs into full-fledged POS units. But there is a line where it doesn’t make sense and JPMorgan Chase’s current debate about removing per-day cash limits crosses that line.
First of all, unlike mobile devices, ATMs have a very physical limitation: Once the cash that some human loaded into the ATM runs out, the ATM loses much of its most-desired functionality. Sure, it can still accept deposits and reveal balances, but not that much more. To be candid, those particular services are much better handled by a mobile app. (Note: That is true up to the limit of mobile deposits which, I assure you, I’ll get back to shortly.) The ATM’s most powerful function is to dispense cash, as that is something mobile apps can’t do. When the money is gone, the ATM becomes rather pointless.