Mobile ATMs: Banks on Wheels

Please Note: If you are looking to buy a vehicle like the ones shown below, you have come to the WRONG place. Please do not send The Financial Brand a request for proposal. This is a gallery of photos published on a news site. We do not sell vehicles, we do not design vehicles, we do not wrap vehicles with graphics, nor will we refer you to anyone who does.

If your financial institution builds its brand around themes like “community” or “convenience,” you should definitely consider deploying a mobile ATM. You can use them to expose your brand to attendees at community events, fairs and festivals, concerts and sporting events. Not only do benefit from the name awareness afforded by such high-visibility venues, you have opportunities to initiate new relationships.

Mobile ATMs can also be used to relieve branch traffic at high-volume locations. Or if you’re opening a new branch, you can get a jumpstart by deploying your mobile ATM in anticipation of the grand opening. And if there’s ever a disaster in your area, victims will appreciate access to much-needed cash.

To help you shape the customer experience for your mobile ATM project, The Financial Brand put together the following list of options and design considerations.

Vehicle Selection

When it comes to the style of your mobile ATM, there are a lot of options. There are vans, trucks, buses, converted RVs and tow-behind units. Perhaps the most creative (and pricey) option is to customize an armored car — that long-venerated symbol of cash-on-wheels.

There may be only one ATM or as many as 3-4, with ATMs accessible from the side, the back or even inside the mobile unit. Some mobile ATMs even have a service window for more complex transactions.

VANS — A modest, compact mobile ATM van from Visa (left), and a slightly larger  one from Aman Bank with a rear-facing unit and optional service window. Note the absence of way-finding “ATM” signage on both vehicles. How would new users be able to recognize these are mobile ATMs from afar?

FREESTANDING — This freestanding unit is a cleverly disguised mobile ATM. The credit union can quickly load the ATM on a trailer and haul it to its next location, which is outside a branch in this example. Note the use of a strong, single, identifiable color, as well as the perimeter cameras for security.

TOW-BEHIND TRAILER — Two tow-behind ATMs, one pulled by a Hummer, the other by a pimped-out armored car.

STEP-IN — A step-in mobile ATM with disabled access.

LARGER VEHICLES — An RV and a bus that have been converted into walk-in mobile ATMs.

RIGHT BRAND IMAGE, WRONG EXPERIENCE — As quaint as this old-timey truck is, you have to wonder if people are comfortable performing cash transactions out of the back of an open van.

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Graphics & Merchandising

The first and most important requirement is large directional “ATM” signage. People aren’t accustomed to seeing mobile ATMs, so you’ll want a big sign with letters measuring at least two- to three feet. It helps to install a collapsible sign fixture on the roof of your vehicle.

Second, you need to avoid the temptation to include complex graphics and lots of messages. It’s better to paint your vehicle with a strong, bold single color — something like red, pink, chartreuse, lime green or orange. You could pay the extra money to wrap the entire vehicle in graphics, but make sure you keep the design fairly simple (think: “texture” rather than “message”). When it comes to outdoor marketing, you need to remember that less is more. A good rule of thumb comes from the billboard industry, where they recommend between 7-14 words total. As badly as you want people to know you’ve got loans and checking accounts and online banking and four convenient locations, you’re going to struggle if you dump a bunch of text on customers. It’s better to pick one message or product, and include your web address. Forget about things like including your phone number or listing your branch locations. The guys who install vehicle signage love slapping that stuff on, even though it’s little more than space-filler.

Third, you will usually have the freedom to install various other forms of signage and merchandising around your mobile ATM. You can bring poster holders, brochure racks, tables/chairs, inflatables, air dancers and other attention-getting displays.

One way to get noticed is to pick an unconventional color from your brand’s palette. Notice to the right of the photo the portable signage they brought along.

American1 FCU keeps it simple with just a couple of colors and basic messages. Woodsville Guaranty Bank has dubbed their mobile ATM the “Cash Cow – Money on the Mooove,” in a style appropriate to their farm-friendly agricultural community.

While this custom van for Navy FCU is attractively branded, it isn’t very likely that passersby will recognize that it’s a mobile ATM.

It certainly isn’t sexy, but at least you can see the giant “ATM” signs from far away.

To help create a casual, friendly, approachable environment, Tinker FCU brings along an umbrella and patio chairs along, while also serving refreshments.

ATM Receipts = Marketing Opportunity

A high volume of people using your mobile ATM aren’t going to be your customers. It’s a bit awkward shoving a checking brochure in someone’s face when all they want is $20 from the ATM. But they are going to take their receipt. Turn the back of the receipt into a marketing opportunity, and customers will be walking away with one of your mini-brochures in their wallet.

If you aren’t using the backs of your ATM receipts for marketing yet, you should be.


What is it that drives some people to steal ATMs? Who knows? But the temptation is only sure to increase when an ATM is conveniently placed on four wheels. Chevy Chase bank hired security guards to keep an eye on their mobile ATMs. Citi has a more practical solution: slap some parking boots on the tires (although one tire would probably be sufficient). Also consider installing a security camera or two to monitor the surrounding area.

Citi slaps a parking boot on all four tires, but maybe one would be enough? Notice the large, inflatable, portable way-finding balloon. Smart.

Customers will feel more secure using an exposed ATM with a security guard present, but is it worth the extra expense?


When planning your mobile ATM, it’s important to remember all the design principles that would normally be applied to any ATM project. This includes lighting. There will be many times your mobile ATM will be deployed past dusk, in which case customers will feel more comfortable accessing their cash in a well-lit environment, just as they would at your walk-up or drive-through ATMs. Extra lighting should also be applied to signage, helping identify the mobile ATM as a “destination location” at the venue.

Notice the bank of four large lights illuminating the transaction area.

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