IF ONLY IT DISPENSED LATTE

Maybe the ATM industry got a little ahead of itself. For about a decade banks have been throwing money at new machines that could do everything from sell stamps to talk to customers. They've spent billions in the past two years alone, but they've yet to harness the power of those souped-up machines.

That could change soon, suggests a new study by the Tower Group, a Needham, Mass., research firm. But don't expect the new machines to dispense groceries and theater tickets, says Tower's Jerry Silva. Instead, the ATMS are going to become money-saving, monster marketing machines for the banks. New ATMs can print photocopies of deposited checks on the back of receipts and can sell bank services like CDs and home-equity lines.

While a few banks may add machines that do sell stamps and such, it's not something customers have shown much interest in. The bottom line, according to George Albright, an ATM analyst in Atlanta, remains the bottom line. And so far, users aren't willing to pay more for ATM bells and whistles, even if they save time.

IF ONLY IT DISPENSED LATTE | News