The Value-Add and Purchase Funnel of Automated Teller Machines

In the age of debit cards, credit cards, Apple Pay and a wide range of apps to send and receive funds, cash is still king. In 2016, good old paper currency accounted for 32 percent of all transactions. In fact, the 18-to-24 age group, the so-called Millenials that say cash is dead, used dollar bills and coins for 38 percent of their transactions.

ATM profit purchase funnel

All transactions begin at the top of the purchase funnel

This presents a value-add opportunity for business owners and investors. Consider the purchase funnel. The first step to profit is making consumers aware of your business. In the world of ATM management, placement is key. Signs that point to the nearest ATM are also important.

Consider where cash transactions are dominant. This includes farmer’s markets, county and state fairs, live music and sports, and other events where setting up to take card transactions is tricky. Mobile ATMs provide access to cash on site, and as the manager of a machine, these types of events are great for making profit.

Simply show consumers where to withdraw cash, and they will quickly move from awareness to purchase. Of course, the purchase part of ATM ownership is different than most goods or services transactions, and this post will show the ways that an ATM boosts profit.

Details about how an ATM boosts profit

There are five general ways an ATM boosts profit.


  1. Surcharge. This fee is applied to all transactions, and it helps ATM owners cover their overhead. Setting the surcharge is a key part of the business plan; too high and users may balk; too low and you may not earn much profit. (Check our site soon for more info on smart surcharge strategy!)
  2. Location owner commission. If you own a convenience store, supermarket or other location where ATMs are commonly found, a commission is often worked out. While an ATM boosts profit for the machine owners, it can also help store owners find a passive income stream.
  3. Motivating cash purchases. If you own a store, own a restaurant, host special events or otherwise need large, secure amounts of cash on hand, an ATM is very helpful. Cash is most often used for purchases under $20, so be sure to consider setting up a machine if you manage a business where small purchases are common.
  4. Avoid interchange fees. The cost of taking a credit card can cut into your profits as a business owner. If you give consumers the easy option of pulling cash out of a machine, however, that per-transaction overhead will go down.
  5. Integration across several locations. Most ATM investors go on to purchase and oversee several machines. Since you do not have to oversee every machine every day, one or two ATMs make for a great passive income. However, if you decide to set up several machines at several locations, the ease of managing them can turn a part-time passive profit into a full-time money-making machine…literally!