A BBC report on the past and future of ATMs and the possibility of a cashless society.
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The cash machine. Cash point. ATM. Hole in the wall. Whatever you call it around the world, it's celebrating its 50th anniversary today. It was on June the 27th, 1967 that the first of these machines was unveiled by Barclays Bank in north London. And this is part of the first British advert for the new technology.
London. And Upston Street Banks are catering to customers with computer age techniques.
The ATM was the brainchild of John Sheppard Baron, who said he'd drawn inspiration for his device from vending machines dispensing chocolate bars. The Financial analyst Louise Cooper told me how the ATM changed everyday life in Britain and other Western countries.
It truly was revolutionary. Banks closed at weekends. I remember my mum having to work out on a Friday how much money she'd need for the following weekend and get it all out in advance. But also going to a bank at lunch time, because she was working, and had to get everything done at lunch time. But of course everyone else did as well, so there were huge queues. She couldn't even go after work because banks closed sort of mid-afternoon. And she couldn't go before work because they opened fairly late as well. A bankers day was quite short in terms of opening the bank at least. We are so used to now paying your bills at one o'clock in the morning on your phone apps or your internet banking or your phone banking. But go back only a generation or so and the world was very different. And you could almost say these things, the phone apps your internet banking your smart phone banking, actually the roots of it go in that extraordinary development 50 years ago.
The other thing of course is we're moving forwards. We are told we're moving towards a cashless society. Are the cash machines days numbered?
So this is what is really interesting. We have contactless cards. We have apps on our smartphones for paying. We have heard about the death of cash for quite some time. And yet a report out from a European think tank literally only seven days ago looked at this idea, the death of cash, there will be a cashless society, and concluded actually the evidence is not there. In fact the evidence is the opposite. If you look at cash as a percentage of GDP pretty much across Europe with the exception of Sweden and Denmark, it's increasing. And to be honest, the think tank doesn't quite understand why. And now there are a couple of reasons. Low interest rates means there's pretty much no point in keeping your cash in a bank. And the older generation may well hoard cash. Some people think it helps with their budgeting. Debt charities would say the problem with credit and debit cards is it's too easy to spend whereas actually cash teaches you budgeting. Also in the black economy, there are certain tradesmen that will only take cash. So there are reasons why cash is still popular. But for many, it sort of runs counter factual that the use of cash is actually increasing despite all this financial and technological innovation in the financial services industry.
Financial analyst Louise Cooper.