The ATM machines story: From mere cash dispensers to being solar-powered

The story goes that one John Shepherd-Barron, an engineer, devised the idea of an ATM machine, because while he was languishing in the bath, he missed his bank’s opening hours and, hence, the opportunity to get cash for his evening out at the local pub. Supposedly, he sold his idea to Barclays Bank “over a pink gin” and the first ATM machine made its debut on June 27, 1967. The British still consider Shepherd-Brown to be the inventor of the ATM machine, much to the amusement of some historians who attribute the invention of ATM machines to several independent teams working to find a solution to obtaining cash after hours, without resorting to robbery.

 

Whatever the truth is, ATM machines have given significant return on investment (ROI) to retailers and store-owners, having positive ripple effects on the payments solutions landscape. In fact, their impact is best summed up by the Smithsonian Magazine: “ATMs showed that banking needn’t be tied to a branch or even a human being, prefiguring a world where banking is done 24-hours a day, seven days a week on mobiles and laptops.”

 

Here are some of the highlights of what ATMs can do now (aside from dispensing cash at 60 second intervals).

 

  1. From cash to pre-approving loans

 

Originally, ATMs were designed only to dispense cash and this process took a long time (often more than a minute). Today, they can perform an impressive host of functions in addition of cash withdrawals: depositing money, paying bills, printing bank statements, buying prepaid electricity and airtime, games and promotions, allowing advertisements and, delivering pre-approved loans.

 

  1. ATM “human tellers”

 

USN noted that while the original concept of ATM machines was to eliminate the need for a human teller to service a customer, some banks aim to introduce the “human factor” by allowing bankers to interact with tellers via real-time video conferencing. In the US, Dollar Bank and the Bank of America have introduced upgraded ATMs with access to remote bank associates. “These ATMs are able to provide a branch-like level of customer service for extended hours.”

 

  1. Cancelling a lost or stolen card on an ATM

In the unfortunate incidence of having lost a bank card, or having it stolen, bankers had to go through the laborious process of telephonically cancelling their cards. FNB now offers customers another card cancellation alternative: via an ATM. FNB relayed this to ITWEB.

 

  1. Solar-powered ATMs

 

ATM machines can now run off solar energy.  Not being able to access cash during load shedding may soon be a thing of the past. Those in rural areas, where there is poor access to electricity, may also make use of these solar-powered ATMs. Of the total banked population in SA, 83% withdraw money each month, making ‘convenient cash’ critical. ATM Solutions was the first to bring solar-powered ATMS to the market in 2014. Even in areas where power outages last a few days, customers can rely on ATM Solutions’ innovative solar-powered ATMs.  Government endorsed the company for its commitment to driving South Africa’s economy forward.