50 Years of the ATM
‘Paper’ money is nothing new.
It’s so old in fact that the first paper bills were used in China during the Tang Dynasty between AD618-917. Whilst initially used as private bills of credit or exchange, its popularity gradually saw it adopted as a means of currency.
China remained the only major adopter until the practice began to catch on in Europe in the 17th Century.
Four hundred years later, cash is used by every currency in the world. Where the Chinese originally used mulberry bark, modern notes are made from cotton paper or polymers – like the new £5 note.
However, the cash revolution didn’t really begin until fifty years ago when Barclay’s Bank unveiled the first ever ATM in Enfield, London.
Its inventor, John Shephard-Barron, could never have imagined the dramatic change the ATM would provoke. Not only in the way the average person would access their money but also how they would interact with their bank.
Transactions that were traditionally carried out in a branch with the aid of a bank clerk were now being carried out on the high street with something Shephard-Barron called a Personal Identification Number.
Image courtesy of History.com
Since its launch on the 27th June 1967, ATM technology has evolved to meet the ever changing demands of the customer and the increasingly complex nature of ATM security threats but its purpose has stayed remarkably pure.
That is to provide customers with the cash they need, whenever they need it, whilst keeping their details safe from tamper or attack.
The means of that protection has changed significantly in the face of growing ATM and online fraud both in terms of the technology but also in the systems designed to protect customer information including the introduction of chips and teams of anti-fraud analysts.
A far cry from the slightly radioactive carbonate 14 strip originally used on cash cards.
The ATM also sparked the modernisation of banking systems that not only changed the role of the bank clerk but introduced new technologies to branch lobbies such as paying-in machines and online banking.
TestLink is proud to have been part of the journey for the last twenty-five years, supporting banks and Independent ATM Deployers with servicing, parts, security enhancements, component upgrades and remanufactured ATMs.
The industry has changed so much since those first humble days in London. Five decades later and cash is still a huge part of everyday life with £180 billion withdrawn from 70,000 ATMs across the UK in 2016.
The growing complexity of security threats, the increasing sophistication of the ATM technology and changes to cash itself – specifically the introduction of polymer notes – means that the ATM industry is one of the most innovative in the world.
Next generation ATMs will, by design, defeat a host of security threats, sport touch screens and incorporate near field ‘contactless’ technology.
They will behave more like tablets than the standard user experience that is so common in the majority of mainstream ATMs today
The introduction of the ATM proved to be the catalyst that sparked an enduring evolution for the banking and ATM industry that continues to this day.
We’re very excited to see what comes next.