June 27 saw the 50th anniversary of the ATM – a device that has genuinely transformed how consumers get cash and interact with their banks. Barclays installed the first ATM in its Enfield branch, and to celebrate the occasion 50 years later, the bank has painted the ATM in that branch gold and rolled out the red carpet in front of it. In 2009, Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, called it “the most important financial innovation that [he has] seen in the past 20 years.”
Some believe that the ATM will not be around to celebrate its 60th anniversary; they claim that as we move towards cashless society and digital payments, ATMs will simply disappear. That might be true in some countries; according to a blog written by Optile, German-based payments provider:
“Finding an ATM nearby [in Sweden] is an almost impossible task. Even if you are lucky enough to discover one, you will see it covered with a huge layer of dust: 900 of 1,600 Swedish bank branches do not store any cash, and some of them do not even have any ATM.”
And yet, cash has proven to be remarkably resilient in many other countries, and while that’s the case, ATMs continue to play a major role. What is starting to change, however, is how people get cash from the ATMs. The transition to digital is becoming notable in this area as well, with more banks offering an opportunity for their customers to withdraw cash using a mobile rather than a plastic card.