Head Office, Johannesburg, South Africa

The ATM turns 50 this year (Demo)


Thanks to an invention accredited to John Shepherd-Barron and De La Rue Instruments Ltd, Barclays installed the first ATM in London in 1967. Fourteen years later, Standard Bank introduced South Africa to ATMs by installing 25 AutoBanks in Johannesburg. The ATMs were successful and highlighted the fact that consumers were desperate for after-hours banking. Today there are more than 3 million ATMs placed conveniently all over the world and they don’t look anything like their erstwhile counterparts. Let’s examine the ATM’s long history and what its future holds.

The little cash machine that could

After the first ATM was installed and functional, the goal was to make them better and faster. Several power players in the financial services, computing and telecommunications industries contributed. In no time, users were able to transact at ATMs from different banks and at ATMs across the world, thanks to interbank networking and international card associations such as MasterCard and Visa.

Then came the expansion of tasks that ATMs could carry out: they grew from facilitating cash withdrawals and deposits to making money transfers, detailed account reviews and bill payments possible. By the 80s and 90s, ATMs could be found all over the world. More manufacturers than ever, such as Diebold, NCR, Triton and IBM, as well as independent deployers (like ATM Solutions in 1999) entered the field. Retail Banking Research has estimated that today a new ATM is installed somewhere in the world every three minutes. ATM Solutions, itself, has installed an ATM a day since its inception, on average.

More uses than we can count

We’ve highlighted some of the offbeat uses that people have found for the concept of the ATM. There are 10-foot-tall ATMs, ATMs that can dispense water and some that serve cupcakes. There are even ATMs that follow you around. It goes to show that over the course of 50 years, the ATM hasn’t shied away from innovation and has embraced it instead. Now, there are iPad-powered ATMs, ATMs that collect e-waste and even fill out your medical prescriptions.

The bank of the future?

The ATM was invented to make certain banking services (specifically withdrawals) available to customers outside of banking hours. Over time, more services started becoming available through the ATMs such as loan applications and prepaid services. Self-service banking is in line with the growing trend of consumers expecting more, faster.

Zack Miller, writing for Tradestreaming, calls the ATM the distributed bank of the future and adds that ATMs located away from bank branches “give banks added visibility within their communities, even as some banks shutter local branches. It’s possible that for more communities, in just a few years, the modern teller machine will be the only physical banking presence around. Instead of making customers come to branches, ATMs bring the branches to the customer.”

ATM Solutions turns 18 this year

ATM Solutions, founded by Steven Kark, group CEO in 1999, was the first independent deployer and operator of ATMs in South Africa. “We pioneered the first ATMs to communicate wirelessly in South Africa, we launched ATMs that could harness the sun’s solar energy using power inverters and converters, and we aligned ourselves with several partners along the way. That’s how we’ve grown to become the premier ATM deployer that we are today.” To learn more about our story, view our company profile below.

Download our ATM brochure here