Let your fingers do the banking

First it was the bank teller, and now the ATM is on the endangered species list. Bank of America has announced a new service that will transform the machine you’re sitting in front of into your own private bank machine. The bank is launching a “smart card” pilot program that allows Visa Cash stored-value smart cards to be loaded with funds via the Internet. The program sets the stage for eventually transforming personal computers and other consumer devices into ultra-convenient “home ATMs”.

The pilot program, which involves bank and Visa employees, lets them use Bank of America’s Internet HomeBanking service to transfer funds from their chequeing account to a Visa Cash stored-value chip card. The Visa Cash smart card can then be used to make purchases from participating merchants in the “physical world” (as they eerily call it) or from Internet merchants.

“This will establish the platform for what one day will become the ultimate convenience — a personal, home ATM that can be easily accessed with a personal computer or through other emerging delivery channels, such as interactive television,” said Michael DeVico, executive vice president of Bank of America’s Interactive nking division. “

To load funds, a pilot participant will use a secure Internet browser to log into the PC Load system by entering an ID and password. The user will then insert a Visa Cash smart card into a portable smart card reader that can be inserted directly into a personal computer’s diskette drive. Once the smart card is inserted in the PC, the participant will be ready to transfer funds from his or her account to the card, and head out to the mall.