The Story

Each day we spend an enormous amount of time waiting for regular daily necessities like the elevator or going to the bank, and a lot of these experiences can be made to be more efficient.

Time is something we simply never have enough of, and I wanted to seek out a way to solve for the need of making our time more effective and efficient. While I could really start anywhere, I chose to approach the problem of waiting in line for the ATM.

The situation with waiting in line for an ATM machine to just get money is a chronic problem that happens on a daily basis during peak hours in a largely cash based city like Hong Kong. Time spent waiting in line is time wasted on more important and precious things that you value in a time deprived life that we live today.

Average Wait Time

The Process

To really understand that problem, inquiring with people that were affected by this situation was the first point of research. Before starting however, I knew intuitively it probably wasn’t a good idea to hover around the ATM machine and inquire with people while they were waiting in line, so I mostly went about inquiring with people in café’s and situations where people were most relaxed and proved to have a little more ‘time’ so to speak.

While interview processes are great at finding out valuable insight, what I found really amazing with this project was just simply observing how people behaved throughout the process of using the ATM. That gave me a behavioural perspective and reactions that you simply couldn’t think of on the spot in an answerable format.

Interview processes

As I gradually accumulated more information from interviews and observations, I started extrapolating the information to create personas that represent an overview of the types of people and their particular paint points when experiencing their ATM problems.


Just one of the personas extrapolated from my findings

At this point, the personas has helped me at least validate the problem, and knowing that the problem has reared it’s ugly head my next task was to start figuring out a solution.

I decided that understanding what the current user flow is, would be a good starting point…

By doing that I broke down what actually happened at the machine, and quickly realized that the problem wasn’t at the machine, because the actual flow of the processes were quite streamlined. People also had expressed through the research, that the ATM processes were quite straight forward as is; so the problem was definitely happening before the machine…

Where did I go from there?

Knowing that the problem existed before the ATM, I decided at that point it was best to leave the machine processing alone, and look at the problem by providing a solution that enabled the user to take action before reaching the machine.

I understood that part of the problem was caused by the realization of not having money in a persons wallet, this inevitably prevented people from going about their daily lives to meeting friends and family during their precious lunch hour.

This led me to bringing the idea of the ATM into the phone, allowing a person to act upon their desired outcomes (cash withdrawal, transfers, bill payments etc.) before ever reaching the machine. By allowing the set of tasks to be pre-buffered on the phone, it enables a person to only have to verify their identity through the banking PIN system and a simple NFC tap or wifi access point to complete what they needed at the ATM. This greatly reduces the time at the ATM machine for the user, and minimizes maintenance costs further by reducing physical components to the bare minimum as part of the ATM.

The Prototype

Below is the prototype I built using Invisionapp. While it’s my first experience with using Invisionapp, it’s set up and interface is very intuitive. The only complaint I would have is that it’s a little slow, but that may be caused by the fact that I’m using a free account and not a subscribed user. Nevertheless, I think the features throughout Invisionapp are great, and they work very well in getting the point across as a working prototype.

As far as prototypes go, I think there are definitely places to improve upon. Particularly in the area of UI and some further understanding of patterns etc.


Despite this concept largely being based upon research from participants in Hong Kong and solving the issue of wasting time in line for the ATM, a looming larger problem surfaced during research among participants that were from other countries. That problem was particular to the issue of security from information theft, to personal safety.

As much as there is a shift towards a cashless society, there will continue to be a place for physical money transactions for some time to come. With that, there will be necessity to better understand how we can use technology to better protect ourselves during our ATM experience.

As part of my proposed concept, I have already attempted to improve a certain level of security through the removal of the function of physical bank cards, and key pads. These remove the opportunities for card skimming or keypad loggers to be installed on the machine interface to deceive the user. I have not yet explored and considered other issues of security such as personal safety, and how one can improve upon that with such a system. This is definitely a priority item to further look into as part of the next version.

Other considerations may include more innovative UI navigation that allow for greater functionality beyond basic payment and daily transactional tasks, multiple bank integration, and payment notification system for regular payments.

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