What is an ATM?

An automated teller machine (ATM or ATM) is a computerized machine designed to dispense money to bank customers without the need for human interaction. The ATM can also take deposits, transfer money between bank accounts and provide other basic financial services.

Most banks have one or more "local" ATMs so customers can access services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During banking hours, the ATM can reduce long lines inside the bank, providing an alternative to a human teller. Even better, the ATM is still available long after the bank is closed. If you need cash in the evening, on a holiday or on a Sunday, the ATM is there to assist you.

To use an ATM, the customer feeds it a bank card, sometimes called a debit card. It looks like a credit card but is issued by the bank for use with an ATM. Once the machine reads the magnetic stripe on the card, it asks for a personal identification number, or PIN. The PIN provides security in case the card is lost or falls into the wrong hands.

Upon successful entry of the associated PIN, the customer will see a list of options on the ATM screen. Through the touch screen or buttons, the customer navigates through the ATM screens to complete the desired transaction. If the customer chooses to withdraw cash, the cash is dispersed through a feed slot. If making a deposit, the customer inserts the deposit envelope into a deposit slot when prompted by the machine. Receipts are optionally printed for the customer, but the ATM keeps a record of all transactions. Connected to the bank's computer system, the ATM can automatically deduct withdrawals or add deposits to the customer's account(s).

Many banks do not charge customers a fee for using their own ATMs. However, if you withdraw money from an ATM that does not belong to your bank, you will likely incur transaction fees. ATMs often publish information about fees that do not apply to customers, although this does not include fees that your own bank may charge.

ATM patents reportedly date back to the 1930s, but the first real ATM is credited to Barclays Bank of London in 1967. The latest incarnations of these now-ubiquitous machines include Linux and Microsoft-based screens. , and ATMs for the blind.

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