Everyone hates ATM fees, especially the exorbitant ones charged by standalone machines in shops and bars. So Clint Townsend, a 25-year-old from Brooklyn, started a business that could end ATM fees for good: He’s building a network of ATMs that dispense cash for free. The catch is that consumers must be willing to watch some advertising while their money is dispensed.
The first (and thus far only) ATM in the Free ATMs NYC network is located in the Knitting Factory, a live venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It launched earlier this month. The first client to advertise on the machine is Domino Brooklyn, an entertainment app for Brooklyn-ites.
Townsend says the ads last no longer than it takes for the banks to process your transaction. Each machine displays five different advertisements, in addition to an ad for the business hosting the ATM itself. Businesses can trade their free ad space for ads elsewhere on the ATM network, Townsend tells B.I.
Currently, FANYC charges $60 per month, per advertiser, per location. Advertisers can also buy a vinyl wrap that covers the machine itself. The Knitting Factory machine is used about 100 times per week, Townsend says. “The people want this and the people need this,” he says, although he admits that “advertisers have yet to come knocking down our door.”
The idea has a “Why didn’t I think of that?” feel to it. After all, most banks already use their own ATM screens as ad media to pitch mortgages and home loans while you wait for your withdrawals.
There’s just one drawback: Townsend can’t do anything about the fee your own bank might charge you for using an out-of-network ATM. “We can’t control what your bank does,” he says.
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