The golden age of banking

By Teamspirit on Wednesday, 28 June 2017

On Tuesday 27th this week, the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) celebrated its 50th birthday. It has been half a century since the first cash machine was opened at the Enfield branch of Barclays Bank, sparking the self-service banking culture we are familiar with today – and to mark the occasion, Barclays has given the modern cash machine a golden makeover.

To commemorate the anniversary, Barclays has painted the first ever machine with a coat of gold paint, added a commemorative plaque alongside it and also rolled out a red carpet in front of the hole in the wall for its users.

ATMs completely transformed the way consumers interacted with their finances, encouraging more spending on weekend and evening leisure activities when high street branch services would have previously been unavailable. The infrastructure enabled not only ad hoc withdrawals but also inspired point of sale terminals, telephone and internet banking.

Today, 94% of UK adults still use cash machines and ATM manufacturers claim that new technology will ensure their ongoing relevance. Given that at present customers only visit their bank seven times a year on average, the most up-to-date cash machines aim to replace these services by carrying out 90% of all tasks conducted in-branch.

Initial concerns around the ATM “robot cashiers” echoes of the transition the financial services industry is undergoing today. In the latest liberation from bricks and mortar banking, consumers must become more comfortable with the idea of interacting with their banks via smartphone apps with the assistance of AI and chatbots.

For now it seems that cash still has a role to play alongside convenient mobile banking and contactless payments, with a total of £180bn withdrawn from UK cash machines last year. However it will be interesting to see whether the golden Enfield ATM continues to be in service in future decades, or if it becomes relegated to a relic of times gone by.

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