A brief history and few facts you didn’t know about ATMs


The ubiquitous automated teller machine (ATM) is turning 50 this year. It was on June 27, 1967, that the first ATM was opened to the public at a Barclays branch in a suburb of London. Let’s go through few ATM statistics, the machine’s history.

Who invented the ATM?
While John Shepherd-Barron is commonly believed to have come up with the idea for the ATM, others have contested it. Other teams of engineers at banks were said to have been working on a cash dispenser at the same time. Barron’s “eureka” moment was inspired by a machine dispensing chocolate bars and he later sold his concept to an executive at Britain’s Barclays Bank over a pink gin.

Story behind the PIN
Shepherd-Barron’s wife suggested he used a four-digit security number because she said she would never be able to remember the originally planned six digits. The idea stuck.

How did it work:
The customer had to insert a cheque into the machine and enter a PIN, which had to match the cheque before cash was dispensed. This was followed by a magnetic-stripe card following concerns over security.

Predecessors to the ATM
Vending machines for stamps, newspapers and candy. Bankograph, a short-lived machine to deposit cash and cheques, invented by Luther George Simjian in 1960.

Infamous ATM Frauds
In May 2016, a gang of thieves in Japan used credit card data stolen from South Africa’s Standard Bank to withdraw $13 million from 14,000 ATMs in all of three hours. The criminals are still at large. Ercan Findikoglu, a Turkish citizen, hacked into banks’ systems and even removed the withdrawal limits at ATMs.

He then used a global network of thieves to withdraw $55 million in three attempts between February 2011 and February 2013. One of them was caught in a New York diner with $1 million in cash, which finally led to Findikoglu’s capture and extradition to the US in 2015. He was convicted in February this year.

Number of ATMs across the world
South Koreans have access to more ATMs than any other nationality with 278.7 machines per 1,00,000 adults, whereas South Sudan has the least ATMs with 0.9 machines per 1,00,000 adults (2015 data). India has 19.7 ATMs per 1,00,000 adults.

Growth of ATMs is slowing
Global ATM installations grew at CAGR of 9.9% between 2010 and 2015, but are expected to grow at just 4% between 2015 and 2020 as cashless transactions rise.

The volume of cashless transactions grew 52% between 2011 and 2015, while ATM withdrawals grew at 33% There were 99 billion cash withdrawals and 471 billion cashless payments in 2015.

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