ATMs or Automated Teller Machines are one of the greatest inventions in the world. It makes life easier for everyone since we no longer need to go to the bank to queue up whenever we need to withdraw cash from our savings accounts.
But do you know that an ATM is also called a “hole in the wall”?
Here are ten facts about ATMs you probably didn’t know about!
The inventor of the ATM is highly contested by various individuals
It appears that there are several contenders who claimed credit for the invention of the ATM. One version credits Luther George Simijan, an US inventor who created a mechanical cash-dispensing machine in 1939. However, it was removed 6 months later due to a lack of customer usage.
In 1967, Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom accepted an idea of a cash-dispersing machine by John Shepard-Barron and the ancestor of the modern ATM was born. Shepard-Barron is generally thought to be the true inventor, but due to the lack of proper documentation, we will never truly know.
The first ATM did not use magnetic stripes
The aforementioned ATM installed by Barclays used PIN codes but not the commonly-known magnetic stripes of today. Instead, they used a radioactive isotope carbon to simulate a cash withdrawal! Talk about the dangers of banking!
The first electronic ATM was installed in 1969
Donald Wetzel, a former pro baseball player was credited with the invention of the first automated, electronic ATM. It was installed by Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York. It was also the first ATM to use the magnetic stripes of today.
The ATM was only truly accepted by the general public 10 years later in 1977
In 1977, the then chairman of Citibank invested $100 million to install ATMs all over New York City. A huge blizzard followed shortly after the installation, which prompted people to start using the ATMs.
After the blizzard, Citibank started its “Citi never sleeps” campaign, depicting a customer plodding through snow and blizzard to use the ATM. The campaign worked, and ATMs become a household name.
So yes: to some extent, you’ve to thank Citibank for making ATM mainstream.
The original ATMs were really expensive
The cost of ATMs in 1973 was SGD$197,000! That is almost half the price of a 3-room HDB flat in Singapore!
ATMs are now really cheap to install (for the banks, of course)
The cost of ATMs in 2014 has dropped down to less than SGD$4,000; that is probably the cost of a Chanel bag in today’s context. The advance of technology works wonder on the price tag!
There are approximately 2 million ATMs around the world
This is how popular ATMs are in the world right now. With 2 million ATMS around the world, there are even 2 of them in Antarctica!
China installed its first ATM much later than the rest of the world
Likely due to its close-doors policy in the past, China took a much longer time to catch on the fever. The first ATM was installed only in 1987.
There are at least 3 incidents of ATM frauds in Singapore
While the total number is not known, there are at least 3 know incidents of ATM frauds involving cloned ATM cards. There is one case in 2014 in which a Canadian was jailed 36 weeks. The second involved a pair of Romanian men in 2016. They were sentenced to 3 years in jail for stealing $75,000 from ATMs. The third case happened earlier last year (2017) where a Bulgarian was arrested for trying to steal from ATMs with cloned cards.
ATMs have different names around the world
ATMs are not always known as ATMs around the world. In Australia and Canada, they are known as “bank machines” or “money-machines”. In New Zealand, they are “cash-points” while in the UK, they are the “Hole-in-the-wall”.
Hmm…interesting. Hole in the wall, ha.
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