ATMs and credit cards respectively have been the catalysts for the acceptance of unattended machines and an increasingly cashless society. The first Automatic Teller Machine debuted in the UK in 1967, changing the way cash was distributed and providing convenience to people everywhere.
The first unattended cash machine, invented by John Shepherd-Barron and inspired by a chocolate bar vending machine, dispensed cash from deposited checks. The machine did go through some tweaking, with Shepherd-Barron inventing bank cards and PIN codes. Jump to 50 odd years later and there are approximately 3.5 million ATMs across the world.
Cash Loses Its Appeal
While the ATM was revolutionary in its time there seems to be less place for them in today’s society. Despite their widespread presence there has been a noted drop in both free use and pay-for-use ATMs, with the former being removed by banks, making the use of cash more expensive. When you can turn to numerous cashless payment methods while in a bind, the ATM seems unnecessary.
One reason cash has lost a lot of its appeal is that cash costs time. When you use cash, you need time and forethought. You also have to consider the security risks of carrying cash. Cashless payments gives you the ability to spontaneously splurge on something extra, without having to look for an ATM. With advances in credit card safety you also reduce the chances of fraud and lower your risk to personal loss if the card is stolen.
Cashless Boosts Unattended
Similar to how the ATM removed the teller from the experience of attaining cash, cashless payments have facilitated unattended payments. The improved efficiency in payment systems and ease of use in point of sale machines has meant consumers don’t necessarily have to interact with a person to pay. This allowed point of sale devices to go beyond retail, increasing their presence in our everyday exchanges.
Initially, if you didn’t have someone to process payments, automated machines such as vending machines or prize machines could accept payment via coin mechanisms and bill validators. Now, with the advancement in financial technology, cashless payments (which can include credit/debit cards, contactless, mobile wallets apps, and QR codes) could also apply to unattended payment situations.
Consumers can now use services like laundromats or pay restrooms without looking for coins. They can pay for event tickets, coffee, transport, fast food or fuel without an attendant. So, it’s out with cash, and the bother of finding an ATM and in with a spontaneous purchase and speedy transactions, where you can drive through the car wash and pay with your mobile phone or let a kid ride a kiddie ride and charge it to your credit card.