3 Million ATMs in 50 Years

ATMs are far from a thing of the past. Cash remains king in America, and ATMs continue evolving to meet consumers’ changing needs.

With the rising popularity of digital payment methods, it may be surprising that Americans still prefer cash. In fact, cash was used in 32 percent of all transactions last year, the highest of any payment method. It’s also readily used by consumers of all ages — especially those ages 18-24. With a new debit card issued in the U.S. every five seconds, debit cards and ATMs remain at the forefront of the payment landscape. 

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the ATM industry announced the remarkable milestone of 3 million machines. That’s an average of 60,000 ATMs per year, or roughly 165 per day — with no slowdown in sight.

Continuing its charge as a pioneering self-service technology, the ATM ecosystem is focused on evolving to meet the changing needs of financial consumers. In addition to eliminating fees, many ATMs now offer cardless transactions, Internet access and location-based recommendations for nearby movie theaters and restaurants. A recent industry article discussed ATM 2.0 as an Internet terminal able to administer loyalty programs and serve as a brand champion and “data treasure trove” for community financial institutions (FIs) and retailers.

According to one ATM industry leader, today’s ATMs “are not the cash and dash” machines of the past. “They can do 90% of what a human teller can perform and can connect the physical world of cash with the digital world of cash.”

Let’s celebrate ATMs — past, present and future. As a channel that allows community FIs to provide convenience to both their own consumers and competitors' consumers, ATMs continue to offer tremendous opportunity.