The Impact of the Automated Teller Machine

If you ask four different people who invented the Automated Teller Machine, or ATM, there is a good chance that you may receive four different answers. Four or more individuals have actually claimed to have invented the ATM, including Don Wetzel, George SimJian, John Shepherd-Barron, and John D. White. No matter who invented the ATM, no one can dispute the impact it has had on our society. An ATM, by the way, is a machine that allows you to do banking transactions from a remote computer-operated terminal.



Prior to the invention of the ATM people had to visit a bank or other financial institution to do their banking. It was not uncommon to see a line of 40 or 50 people waiting outside the bank on a Monday morning waiting for it to open. While some banks still have this type of activity, the ATM has decreased the need to wait in line and has helped many people perform their transactions in a fraction of the time it once took.


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When you visit an ATM you are able to perform almost every transaction that you can inside of the bank. You can deposit and withdraw money, transfer money between accounts, access a home equity line of credit, purchase stamps, and deposit a check. We will probably always have human tellers, but ATMs have provided a certain amount of convenience designed to accommodate customers.



In 2004 there were more than 370,000 ATMS in the United States. You can find them in grocery stores, airport terminals, convenience stores, gambling casinos, movie theaters, shopping malls, gas stations, and many more locations. This allows you to do your banking whenever you want and practically whereever you want.


Bank Fees

The ATM has become another mechanism that banks use to make money. If you go to an ATM that is not your own bank's you will be charged a fee ranging from $1.50 to $3.50, but it all depends on the bank. Most people would like to use their own bank but if one is not available they are willing to pay the fee to gain access to their money. Banks make millions of dollars in fees. Also, if a customer does not record their ATM transactions they could overdraft their account, which leads to more fees.


Fraud/Identity Theft

The ATM also provided new ways for scam artists to commit fraudulent activities. There were times when people would deposit empty envelopes into an ATM and key in a dollar amount,such as $300, and then withdraw the money right away. If there was no hold placed on the money they would get away with the bank's cash. Most banks have since put measures in place to stop this practice.


In another type of fraud, some scam artists have attached skimmers to ATMS. This is a device which can steal a debit card user's information when they insert their card.

International Access

The ATM has shrunk the size of the world. If you are traveling, on vacation, a business trip, or visiting relatives the ATM has provided the means to transcend boundaries when it comes to banking. You can even use your credit card and get cash advances from a number of ATMS if you are willing to pay the fee.


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