ITM, PTM, or AIT: What Should We Call Interactive Teller Machines?

Video teller nomenclature by US region.

You know the dance: Someone’s told you that “old-fashioned” ATM’s are being rendered extinct by a new kid in town – the assisted interactive teller machine.

“Hmmm”, you mumble to yourself. “I’ll have to investigate this.”

Unfortunately, when you finally Google it, you‘re not sure what to actually search for. The two chief contenders at present seem to be “ITM” or “AIT”, and according to those in the know, these acronyms differ by region, not by individual.

“Hmm, by region”, you mutter. “Is this true?”

Remote video teller.

Real flesh and blood!

By now, people are probably sick of your mumbling and muttering, so it’s time we got serious about this and came to some consensus on what to call these things.

Every time I read of a new bank or credit union adding a remote teller machine, they are credited with being “the first in the state” to do so.

This isn’t hyperbole; it reflects how new this technology actually is. With this newness comes uncertainty, and it isn’t helped by the fact we have no name with which to identify them.

Part of the problem is not that we have no acronym, but that we have several.

What do you call an ITM machine?

If only it were this simple.

Acronyms include ITM , AIT and PTM

The three main acronyms for personal automated interactive remote assisted video teller machines (did I miss one?) are the following:

  • ITM (Interactive Teller Machine).
  • AIT (Automated Interactive Teller)
  • PTM (Personal Teller Machine)

There are, of course, naming conventions for new technologies we could look to for guidance. We already have “ATM”, so it would be logical to follow suit. This is why the term “ITM” wins the race for me, but what does Google say?

Googling ITM or PTM or ATM

You’re making G very angry!

I ran the following five keyword searches to determine which of the acronyms ranked more frequently:

i) video teller machines ptm

ii) video teller machines itm

iii) video teller machines ait

iv) remote teller machines

v) interactive teller machines

I ranked each acronym by the number of times it appeared in search results either in page titles or meta descriptions. I also included the acronym “ATM” as a control. Here is how they ranked:

Query/Result by Term ITM AIT PTM ATM
video teller machines ptm 0 0 16 5
video teller machines itm 19 0 0 3
video teller machines ait 0 1 0 14
remote teller machines 1 0 0 5
interactive teller machines 5 0 0 3
TOTAL 25 1 16 30

Predictably, “ATM” remains the chief term associated with any kind automated teller machine, for obvious reasons. But “ITM” is running it a close second, with its appearance in the results no less than 25 times. By comparison, “PTM” comes in with 16 appearances, which is surprising because it’s a term most people haven’t heard of. “AIT” brings up the rear with a measly 1 appearance, which is equally surprising, given its perceived status as the main competitor to “ITM”.

Now, I know you’re probably screaming, “That’s only five queries, not nearly enough to be remotely conclusive!!!” at me right now, so would it help if I were to run another five?

Thought so.

Here we go, without using any of the acronyms and an extra query thrown in for free:

Query/Result by Term ITM AIT PTM ATM
assisted teller machines 0 0 0 18
automated video teller 0 0 0 8
assisted video teller 0 0 0 17
personal assisted teller* 0 0 0 4
interactive automated teller 0 0 0 20
interactive video teller 0 0 0 8
TOTAL 0 0 0 75

*”PAT”: Canadian term.

(NOTE: Search results differ widely over geographic regions and even sometimes by server, so these data are by no means exhaustive)

The second set of results is even grimmer than the first, with not a single appearance anywhere on the SERP pages for those three acronyms. “ATM”, supposedly the granddaddy that’s on its way out, came out well on top with 75 appearances.

In fact, if you look at the first set of results, the only time any of the acronyms appeared was for the queries that included the acronyms themselves, with one exception (ITM appeared once for “remote teller machines”).

What to call remote teller machines.

“Leave it with us, we’ll think of something…”

It seems this technology is so new and obscure that even the mighty Goog has missed it.

Banks and credit unions who offer remote video tellers are therefore early adopters and at a significant advantage over branches who offer the traditional ATM (99.9% of them, apparently). That said, if so many branches share a level playing field they probably aren’t yet feeling the pain of opportunity costs.

This is why NOW is the time to put some daylight between you and your competition. Once you know what to actually call them, that is…