What Is An ATM?

What is an ATM? An ATM (Automated Teller Machine) is used to transact banking activities without human intervention. "An ATM machine is used to transact banking activities without human intervention", says...

"An ATM machine is used to transact banking activities without human intervention", says Gwen Evans banking professional with ten years experience in the industry. A bank customer may choose to avoid the lines and lack of privacy due to banking with a teller, or it may be after banking hours and a teller is not available.


Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are also called 24-hour tellers. They are electronic terminals that give consumers the opportunity to bank at almost any time. A customer needs an ATM card and a personal identification number (PIN) to withdraw cash. An ATM can also be used to make deposits or transfer funds between accounts. If a consumer uses an ATM machine that is not owned by their banking institution, a fee will be charged for most transactions.




The world's first ATM was produced by NCR in Dundee, and installed in Enfield Town in the London Borough of Enfield, London on June 27, 1967 by Barclays Bank. The invention is credited to John Shepherd-Barron, although George Simjian registered patents in New York, USA in the 1930s. Don Wetzel and two other engineers from Docutel also registered a patent on June 4, 1973. Early ATM cards were retained by the machine, which used various radiation and low-coercivity magnetism to make fraud more difficult.

In modern ATMs, customers authenticate themselves by using a plastic card with a magnetic stripe, which encodes the customer's account number, and by entering a numeric pass code called a PIN (personal identification number), which in some cases may be changed using the machine. Typically, if the number is entered incorrectly several times in a row, most ATMs will retain the card as a security precaution to prevent an unauthorized user from working out the PIN by pure guesswork. Therefore, the PIN provides security in case the card is lost or falls into the wrong hands.

Once the customer enters the correct PIN number using the touch screen or buttons, choices will appear on the screen allowing the customer to choose options and navigate through transactions. The customer can check account balances, withdraw cash, which comes out of a special slot, and make a deposit using an envelope and the deposit option, and transfer money between accounts. Receipts are printed if the cutover chooses that option. ATM retains a record of all transactions as well, but the customer should hold onto all receipts until they can verify that the deposit or withdrawal was processed correctly.

The convenience of using ATM machines is often done at the risk of personal safety. Users should avoid using ATMs on the street at night; instead, use ATMs found in bank lobbies or bring a friend or two with you. Be aware of suspicious vehicles near the ATM, do not withdraw large amounts of cash, and do not walk away from the ATM with cash in hand. Most importantly, if approached by a robber, surrender the money immediately, and they to observe the robber to give a description to the police later.

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