Friday, July 22, 2005

Cash point gambling

Somebody must remember a wild idea I had some time ago of having gambling built into cash points. Well, a Japanese bank is doing just that!

Sadly, though, they seem to be going at the idea half heartedly. You don't stake any of your own money on the fruit machine function: you either win money or get nothing but I don't think you can lose. My idea much more far sighted: customers to be offered the chance, when they were withdrawing money, to "double or quit" on a roll of the wheel. £20 for a night's drinking might, with a few lucky hits of the button, morph itself into £800 for an impromptu week on the Costa del Sol. On the other hand, it might disappear into thin air. Combine the gambling function with cash withdrawals using a credit card and we might really have some fun. I suppose it would have some unfortunate consequences for the unluckier optimists among us, but then the banks don't exactly specialise in morality anyway.

The BBC article about the fruit machine ATM tries to link the story to a more serious issue: "
Since Japan's economy turned sour a decade ago, its once-complacent banks have had to work harder to attract custom. And cash machines have been relatively slow to catch on, not least because most banks still insist on charging for withdrawals. " I would suggest that the Japanese banks still tend towards complacency. Here are some radical ideas for them: internet banking, direct debit cards that are useable in shops (they only seem to have credit cards), giving overdrafts without asking for a cash surety before you give them (this condition is not just for foreigners), allowing people to get cash from their visa cards etc. etc.. I am very poorly informed about banking and all of these restrictions may be the result of the regulatory framework, but the general impression is that the British highstreet banks would wipe the floor with the Japanese if there was competition.


Anonymous said...

What?! You mean putting cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry on their bank cards didn't inject enough fun into the industry? And all those free gifts? The tissues, the crying towels, the fans, the chirping crickets? I've yet to hear of a British bank handing out free insects to it's customers!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have to concede, the Japanese banks would wipe the floor with the British banks when it comes to insect distribution.

Anonymous said...

Amazing - what are crying towels anyway?

Anonymous said...

My online dictionary says this about crying towels:

A figurative towel for wiping the tears of a self-pitying individual. For example, So you didn't make the first team? Get out the crying towel. This expression is always used sarcastically. [Slang; 1920s]

But they're not just figurative any more. They're a novelty item, a small white towel, golfers hang from their bags, or they get handed out at sporting events. You swing them around in the air during the game to support your team, and if your team loses, you've got something to cry into. They're very handy, especially at onsens.

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