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Happy Birthday to the ATM!

Back in 1967, the world’s first ATM was opened to the public. The machine was set up at Barclays bank branch in North London. From that point in time, people no longer had to rely on bank branches - which often closed early - to access their money. It’s inventor John Shepherd-Barron, who passed in 2010, said the idea was inspired by a chocolate bar dispenser.

Half a century later, it is being widely reported that consumers are turning away from cash. In the UK, for example, card payments now outnumber cash transactions, according to UK Finance. Germany and Sweden have also been reported as going cashless. Despite this trend, the number of ATMs has actually increased in most countries - in particular in developing markets across Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America. Such growth can be explained by the continued demand for cash. In fact, according to The World Cash Report 2018, the only two markets where cash in circulation has decreased in the last three years were Norway and Sweden.

While ATM numbers in larger markets have dropped recently, there is a growing trend for ‘smarter’ machines. RBR’s ‘Global ATM Markets and Forecasts to 2023’ report notes a rise in automated deposit ATMs worldwide, which increased from 34% to 38% in 2017. Utilising this type of ATM helps banks reduce operational costs by recycling cash, and enables customers to perform routine transactions themselves at times convenient to them.  

Over the last 52 years, the ATM has come a long way - from a single ‘cash dispensing’ machine in North London to a $20+ billion industry spread around the world, even in the most rural areas. Despite recent shifts in the consumer behavior, it is safe to say the ATM is changing too, and will still be here for years to come.