What are automated teller machines (also, automated telling machines,) is something which many people may ask when in fact they already know the answer, without realising this to be the case. Automated teller machines – most often abbreviated to be called ATM’s – are the cash dispensing machines provided by banks to give customers easy access to their accounts outwith office hours, at remote locations and without having to stand in line for a teller in their bank’s premises. The security of ATM’s is governed by a Personal Identification Number – PIN – being issued along with each card, which has to be input to the ATM along with the card for a customer to gain account access.
ATM’s are perceived by most people – whatever they may call them – as machines which allow them to check the balance of their account, perhaps request a small paper statement of their most recent transactions and, most commonly of all, make a cash withdrawal from their account. There are a great many ATM’s, however, which offer additional facilities other than these most common ones mentioned.
Certain ATM’s allow customers of the machine’s holding bank to transfer money between different accounts which they have with the bank. They may also allow them to request that electronic bill payments be made to external organisations. This is particularly useful when it comes to the likes of paying utility bills or credit card bills. Deposits are also possible at certain ATM’s and these can be either in online or offline format. Customers place their deposit in an envelope dispensed from the ATM and insert it in to a designated slot. They are then issues with a provisional receipt for their deposit. The envelope will be printed inside the ATM with the customer’s account details and in the case of online deposits, their account credited. It should be noted, however, that the funds will not be available for immediate withdrawal, as the deposit has to be checked and verified in the first instance by banking staff to prevent misuse of the system. Offline ATM deposits work simply on the basis that the bank’s staff will check the details of the deposit and then credit the account manually.
In order to determine how ATM’s work – even in layman’s terms – it is necessary to consider both the mechanical and the electrical aspects. In a mechanical sense, the cash stored in an ATM is located in huge currency cassettes, within an extremely secure, concrete and steel safe in the base of the ATM. When a withdrawal is approved, a system of rollers and pumps dispenses the cash from the currency cassettes and out of the ATM to the waiting customer. Envelopes for deposits – if applicable – and the huge rolls of paper from which statements are dispensed are located to the rear of the machine and are usually monitored and re-stocked by branch staff, unless of course the ATM be a remote one, in which case the security company will perform all servicing.
In an electronic sense, ATM’s are linked to at least the monitoring banks online systems and very possibly the systems of such as Visa International and Mastercard as well, in order to allow non-bank customers to use some of its facilities. When a customer makes a withdrawal from their account, the customer’s account is debited and a compensating credit is made to the particular ATM’s cash account. It is by employing this simple system that bank administrators in the cash centres can balance and reconcile the cash remaining in a serviced and re-stocked ATM.
Automated teller machines are extremely useful devices and have in fact become almost indispensable to the cash economy in modern times. As technology advances in so many ways, the security of ATM’s is looking to be improved by such as the abolition of PIN’s in favour of retina recognition devices and no doubt many other advancements will be provided to improve the convenience and security of these increasingly essential automated teller machines.