An automated teller machine (ATM) is an electronic banking outlet that allows customers to perform basic financial transactions without the need for a human bank teller. Key features of ATMs include:
Computerized, often wall-mounted machines found in public spaces like banks, malls, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.
Connect to banking networks via internet or phone lines to access customer financial accounts.
Allow customers 24/7 self-service access to basic cash services of bank branches after hours.
Primary function is cash withdrawal using debit cards along with processing of other checks, transfers, deposits.
Cash withdrawals incur small fees, set by owning bank but waived for customers of that bank.
Provide convenience through automation, avoiding waits for a teller during bank operating hours.
Accept insertion of debit card or ATM card paired with entering a PIN number for authentication.
Offer transactions in variety of languages and provide instructions on screen.
May also be termed cash machines, cash points, hole-in-the-walls, cash dispensers depending on region.
In summary, ATMs are electronic terminals enabling convenient self-service banking without staff for cash withdrawals and other basic transactions using bank cards around the clock.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using an ATM?
- Convenience – Allow cash access 24/7 at locations beyond just bank branches. Avoid lines and limited hours.
- Ubiquity – Large ATM networks mean easy access to your money locally and abroad.
- Ease of Use – Simple interfaces prompt users through transactions via touch screens.
- Efficiency – Get in and out quickly with an ATM. No wait compared to tellers and faster than cash back in stores.
- Account Access – Check balances, deposit checks, transfer money without human interaction.
- Service Limitations – Cannot open accounts or get specialized services. No human for complex help.
- Fees – Out-of-network ATMs charge fees. Even banks charge non-customers. Fees add up.
- Security Risk – Risk for card skimming or theft since it’s a public computer handling bank info.
- Connectivity Issues – Technical glitches or no connectivity prevent transactions. No attendant to help troubleshoot.
- Cash Only Access – Only get cash, unlike tellers who can provide cashier’s checks, foreign currency, etc.
- Privacy Issues – Shoulder surfing of PINs and account data possible. Hidden cameras at untrustworthy ATMs.
So in essence, ATMs bring efficient, 24/7 access to cash and basic services but they risk fees, technical issues and security threats compared to human tellers. Users make tradeoffs for phenomenal convenience.