Future ATM
By maddy
The NY Times today reported that Carl Amos, an inventor in Atlanta, has recently patented a way to pay for online transactions with bills and coins rather than credit or banking cards. His patent, No. 6,554,184, covers a modified A.T.M. that not only dispenses money but, like a vending machine, accepts cash, which can be used to transfer money from one person to another or to pay for online purchases.

'In upwards of three-quarters of the world, most money transactions are cash only,' said Mr. Amos, who envisions a big market for his invention. Mr. Amos is a rare breed: an independent inventor who actually makes a living off his inventions. A former electrical engineer at I.B.M., he left corporate life to develop his idea for a holographic lens. Since he patented the lens in 1994, he estimates, he has received about $1 million in royalties.

Mr. Amos said his latest invention, should it become widely available, would obviate the need for services provided by Western Union and other money-transfer companies. Another big market in the United States, Mr. Amos said, might be teenagers. Though they do not usually have their own credit cards, they usually have cash and are more than willing to spend it to download music or games.

Mr. Amos also said his system should appeal to those who were worried about identity theft on the Internet or who simply wanted the privacy it provided. Gamblers may be interested in the technology. Many credit-card companies, for example, will not authorize payments to gambling sites. Nor will PayPal, the biggest third-party payment option on the Internet.

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