In June 1967 actor Reg Varney, of On The Buses TV fame, withdrew the first ever cash out of an 'automated teller machine' using a PIN number at a branch of Barclays in Enfield, North London. 40 years on and there's 60,000 ATMs across the UK, used regularly by over 30 million. But apart from the actual number of ATMs on the high street, from the customers point of view not much else has changed about them - until now.
Felix Group plc, a company based in Cheshire, is now deploying a new type of ATM kiosk within high street, licensed and leisure locations across the UK. Called MAX BOX, it is a multi-function two-screen terminal that combines a traditional ATM function with a raft of additional retail services - transforming the humble 'hole in wall' into a standalone 'digital shop'.
With the MAX BOX you can do more than just withdraw cash. You can instantly print digital photos, order flowers for next day delivery, play interactive Sudoku, top up you mobile and download ringtones, games and other mobile content.
The MAX BOX also has a digital jukebox facility that carries a staggering three million digital tracks - including every UK top 40 hit since charts began. In addition the kiosk streams third party advertising, runs sales promotions and can turn any host venue into a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
And through high speed and high capacity broadband the MAX BOX can be quickly updated with new content, products and prices - with additional digital applications easily added to the kiosk at a future date as they are developed. To meet the needs of host venues, Felix also offer three models of the MAX BOX, two of which do not feature the ATM function.
After thorough trials throughout 2006, Felix is now moving forward with its deployment drive and is actively placing kiosks in retail, leisure, licensed and corporate sector venues across the UK. Odeon Cinemas are current trialing non-ATM MAX BOX kiosks, with plans to deploy them in a majority of its multiplexes later this year.
Felix has also partnered with the UK's premier independent ATM deployer Bank Machine. Bank Machine plan to aid the rollout of MAX BOX kiosks into current non-ATM sites, together with a proportion of Bank Machine's existing clients being invited to upgrade. Bank Machine currently operates over 1,400 ATMs in locations including forecourts, convenience stores, shopping centres and cinemas throughout the UK.
Andy Egan, Chief Executive of Felix said: "The launch of the MAX BOX sees vending and ATMs finally growing up, with machines in pubs, airport lounges, shops, staff canteens and other public spaces no longer there just to dispense crisps, coke or cash. Just as 1967 ushered in a new era of consumer convenience by allowing customers to withdraw "emergency" cash from outside a bank for the first time, so we're helping to bring about a new digital retail revolution with the arrival of the MAX BOX."