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Point of Wealth: The reverse ATM

Paid in cash? Point of Wealth lets you put it where you should, when you earn it.

Point of Wealth co-founder David Prehn (left) pitches to USA Today writer Ed Baig. The POW system lets employees who are paid in cash deposit their money, pay bills, and top off pre-paid credit cards. Rafe Needleman/CNET

At DemoFall 2009, one of the few hardware companies launching is Point of Wealth, which makes a bank machine. It's like an ATM, but in reverse: You can only put cash in, not get it out.

The kiosk is designed to be placed in businesses where employees are paid mostly in cash. The idea is that the employees, when they're paid, can then deposit their cash in the machine and distribute it as they wish -- to pay bills, put money into IRAs, or top off debit cards for use later. Of course they can keep whatever cash they want in their pocket, too.

CEO and bar owner Doug Lindstrom told me that the kiosk can also be used by business owners to pay their employees, by transferring funds from their bank account to their employees' pre-paid debit card accounts.

Full-service ATMs do many of the same things, but they generally don't serve the "unbanked," like this business does. Point of Wealth is a very solid concept with a strong business model: The machines are free to the establishments that install them, and Point of Wealth takes small fees for each transaction.