Financial Dictionary -> Banking -> ATM

An ATM machine or Automated Teller Machine in its unabbreviated form is a computerized machine placed outside and inside most banks as well as in places of convenience, such as colleges, fast food outlets, airports etc.

They allow citizens with credit, debit or bank cards to access their bank accounts and make financial transactions, usually cash withdrawals with the option of having a small receipt or statement outlining their finances printed out after the transaction. The idea is to give customers quick access to their money without having to enter an institution and speak with a clerk. This saves money for the bank and makes life easier for the customer.

Modern machines work on the premise that a bank has issued the account holder some form of debit, credit or bank card along with a unique pin code. This card is slotted into a machine (some machines only accept specific cards) and the code is typed in giving the account holder a new screen with several easy options to choose from. With a few presses of a button money can be taken out of the machine dependent on their available balance, and simply pops out of a slot. The card is then retracted. Everything is electronically recorded and reflects so on the bank statement.

The physical money of an ATM is contained in a secure vault within the machine or within the wall that the machine is fixed in to. Due to their sturdiness and public presence ATM's are rarely robbed. On rare occasions software problems within the machines have caused money to spontaneously eject from the machine.

Although the main purpose of an ATM is to withdraw cash, the system has been developed and some offer charity donation, purchase of things like stamps, train tickets and lottery tickets and some allow the depositing of money and checks.