National ATM Council Celebrates Milestone As U.S. ATMs Turn 50 In 2019

Posted On: 1/30/2019

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JACKSONVILLE, FL -- The National ATM Council Inc. (NAC) has declared 2019 "The Year of the ATM in America," 50 years after the first U.S. ATM was installed. The landmark cash-dispensing terminal, situated on the wall of a Chemical Bank branch in Rockville Centre, NY, went live Sept. 2, 1969.

Newspaper ads from Chemical read, "On Sept. 2, our bank will open at 9:00 a.m. and never close again!"

Largely viewed as a novelty at the time, few anticipated America's financial services industry was entering an era in which round-the-clock access to cash would become the norm. Despite some initial technical challenges and weather-related issues, the ATM quickly caught on among local consumers.
"Maybe it was a sign of the times. The moon landing was just six weeks before the first ATM appeared on the scene, and people were prepared for technological miracles," said George Sarantopoulos, NAC board chair and chief executive of Access One Solutions, a leading New York-based provider of ATM services and equipment. "Americans love their cash and quickly embraced the idea of the ATM when it was first introduced."

As Sarantopoulos noted, bank-owned ATMs quickly grew to more than 100,000 by 1996. Since that year, when payment network rules were revised, and entrepreneurs first entered the U.S. market, the number of ATMs has more than quadrupled.

ATMs have come to play a significant role in the nation's economic system, with the U.S. enjoying the highest per capita deployment of these terminals in the world. Consisting largely of small to mid-sized businesses, independent ATM operators now account for almost 60% of the approximately 470,000 ATMs currently deployed across the nation.
Independent ATMs also serve as an essential financial safety net for millions of America's unbanked and under-banked citizens. Providing widespread access to cash via prepaid debit cards and government issued electronic benefit transfer (EBT) payment cards, independent ATM entrepreneurs have developed cost-effective ways to serve residents of what would otherwise be banking deserts in inner city and smaller rural communities throughout the US.

"As America's independent ATM trade association, NAC is planning a special educational outreach during 2019 designed to highlight both this 50-year milestone and the importance of ATMs to U.S. consumers, policymakers, merchants, and related industries," said NAC executive director Bruce Renard. "We see the 50th anniversary of America's first ATM as not only a time for reflection and celebration, but also as an important learning opportunity for our nation."
With the success and widespread presence of ATMs, Renard explained, it's easy to overlook their history, the key role they play in American life today, and the important potential they hold for our collective economic future.

NAC will be highlighting ATM news and milestones throughout this year-long 50th anniversary celebration, culminating with special events and speakers at the "NAC2019 Conference & Expo," scheduled for Oct. 15-17 at Planet Hollywood -- Las Vegas. Early bird registration will be open soon.
Click here for additional information on NAC and ongoing updates on the 50th anniversary celebration