What are the Right and Wrong Ways to Dispose of an ATM You No Longer Need?
Automatic teller machines, by and large, have a lifespan lasting between seven and ten years. Not due to them wearing out but due to technological advances and new laws requiring ATM upgrades.
If you’ve just purchased a new ATM for your place of business due to the voice guidance text to speech ADA guidelines, and you want to get rid of (decommission) an old, obsolete ATM, you have to think carefully about how to do so. It’s a really bad idea to just take it to the town dump.
For one thing, the various electronic parts of an ATM make it hazardous to the environment. Another problem is that thieves and hackers who come across a thrown-away ATM could bring it home, or even just bring parts of it home, may figure out what information is on it, how to use it to harm you, or even how the various security systems work.
This could lead to discovery of new methods for harming your business, or breaking into these machines to steal passwords and customer account information. This is a practice known as “reverse engineering.” The idea that criminals would do such a thing is not mere speculation, either. Some would-be thieves have already been apprehended in junkyards trying to do so. As a business owner, you could be found liable in court if you were to discard an ATM improperly and as a result your customers’ accounts were compromised.
The ATM Industry Association – an influential international trade group that was founded in 1997 and includes more than 1300 members – considers the problem of discarded ATMs to be so serious that it created a detailed guide on how to throw these machines away. Called “Best Practices for Decommissioning ATMs,” this white paper was issued in early 2011 and is available to ATMIA members.
When it comes to the best practices for decommissioning ATMs, discarded ATM’s are an especially ripe target for crooks. The Encrypted PIN Pad (EPP) is the most vulnerable. The EPP is the piece of technology that encrypts – encodes so as to disguise – customers’ personal identification numbers as they use ATM’s. Hackers want to get their hands on EPPs, learn how they work, and find out what their vulnerabilities are. Therefore, ATM owners should disable, or even better, completely destroy an EPP before getting rid of an ATM.
What Can I Do with My Old ATM?
The best measure of all to take, is to call a professional ATM scrap business to throw away your ATM for you. This way, you can be positive that your old EPP is of no value to hackers. In addition, the discarding professionals will make sure that all environmental laws are followed throughout the entire process. For instance, they’ll know how to properly remove and separate the ATM’s metal parts, plastic parts and cables so that each group may be recycled properly.
If you run a small place of business, you might find that the cost of ATM disposal is something of a burden. You can alleviate the cost, however, by trading in your old ATM. Many ATM vendors, both physical stores and online sellers, offer money for used ATMs, or for certain parts of used ATMs. Note that you’ll have a much easier time trading in your used ATM if the machine is five years old or younger. If your ATM becomes obsolete, it will be difficult to trade in. Further, no matter how reputable the enterprise that’s taking your ATM, always destroy the ATM’s PIN pad and hard drive (if any) before turning it over.
It’s also wise to try to negotiate a free disposal before you purchase a new ATM. That is, whenever you’re shopping for a new automatic teller machine, ask the vendors you’re considering buying an ATM from if they’d be willing to take away your old ATM, free of charge, when you’re finished with it. If acceptable, have them include that promise in writing.
To be safe, simply remove all electronic components such as the mother board, memory, processing chips, keypad and other electronic components. Once the keypad and electronic components are properly destroyed the steel enclosure can be recycled by a scrap metal yard.
Finally, ATMs that are no longer in use, that you’re planning to throw away at some point, should be guarded just as securely as ATMs in active use. Be sure to remove the keypad and any storage device such as the motherboard to include the memory and processing chip before simply putting it in the back room or out near a dumpster. When in doubt, contact your local professional recycling company.Read More
When Did the ATM come to the United States?
When our last post ended, the automatic teller machine had made its successful premiere in the United Kingdom. Across the Atlantic Ocean, however, Americans were still largely unaware that this kind of technology could even exist. However, Don Wetzel, the Vice President of Product Planning at the now-defunct Texas technology firm Docutel, was about to change that.
In 1968, Don Wetzel was standing inside a bank in Dallas, waiting in line, imagining what life would be like if people did not have to wait in lines in banks. Then, all of a sudden, he could see it in his mind: the automatic teller machine.
Wetzel’s employer provided five million dollars to develop this idea. Two engineers at the company, Tom Barnes and George Chastain, worked with Wetzel to develop the product. The ATM was not such a great leap for Docutel, though, as it had worked extensively on creating automatic luggage transportation systems for airports.
The ATM prototype was finished about a year later, and Wetzel, Chastain and Barnes received the patent for this device in 1973. Several banks claim to have been the first to install this machine, but Wetzel has stated that the distinction belongs to a Chemical Bank branch in Rockville Centre, New York. Chemical Bank advertised the debut of this machine in a clever way. It announced in ads that it would open at nine a.m. on September 2, 1969, and that it would “never close again.”
Chemical Bank called its ATM the Docuteller. The machine could only dispense cash, and it was not connected to the bank’s network of computers. Unfortunately, the bank installed the machine outside. The machine was not waterproof. The bank tried to protect it from rainwater by setting up a canopy. The canopy was too high. The soaked machine suffered massive damage.
ATMs began sprouting up all over the place. That’s not to say there weren’t some snags in those early years, though. Just imagine the following issues:
- For some banks, the cost of the initial ATMs was prohibitively high.
- Many banks would only allow their best customers – those with the most sterling financial histories and records – to touch these machines.
- Until 1972, a bank customer could not use an ATM unless he or she had a credit card.
- Some customers were puzzled by the ATM at first. In Texas, an ATM refused to give money to a certain bank customer. That customer got so mad he pulled out a gun and shot the machine. Luckily, it was bulletproof.
Little by little, the ATM improved. Docutel put out a total ATM in 1971, one that could transfer money from one account to another, send money to credit card accounts, and so on. Wetzel, Chastain and Barnes also got to work on ATM cards equipped with magnetic strips. These strips proved so effective that they became standard on credit cards.
In 1995, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History officially designated Don Wetzel the inventor of the ATM, despite several people having made that claim over the years. In many ways, it’s astonishing to think about what a contribution Wetzel made to society. Today, there are more than 1.8 million automatic teller machines in existence. That number increases constantly. In fact, about once every five minutes a new ATM opens for business. The average American uses his or her ATM card between six and eight times every single month.
Of course, when you consider these statistics, you might reflect on that poor, solitary ATM in Rockville Centre, New York, standing outside, getting wet in the rain.Read More
How Smart is An ATM?
Thanks to digital technology, automatic teller machines, like so many gadgets we use in our daily lives, are getting smarter all the time. A few years ago, the only relationship between ATMs and smartphones was the fact that you could use a phone app to locate the nearest ATM. Now, however, smartphone apps in many instances are replacing ATM cards altogether.
Consider, for example, the ATM program that the self-service software company NCR has introduced recently. ATM users who have smartphones with cameras can approach an ATM and complete the following process:
- Activate their NCR app
- Enter their PIN number on their phone
- Choose the account from which they want to withdraw money and the dollar amount of that withdrawal
- Scan the QR code that the ATM screen displays
After doing these things, the money comes out and a receipt is sent directly to the smartphone. NCR says that this withdrawal should take a customer about ten seconds. It helps people avoid the threat of skimming, and takes away the fear that they might lose their ATM card or have it stolen.
Diebold, an Ohio-based company that also specializes in self-service systems, has likewise found a way to combine smartphones and ATMs to eliminate the need for an ATM card. Their program works in a way similar to NCR’s:
- An ATM user scans the QR card on a smartphone.
- An ATM screen appears on the phone, allowing that person to choose a dollar amount to withdraw.
- A code appears, which the customer types on the screen of the ATM.
The cash is dispensed, and transactions are complete when customers receive the electronic receipt on their phones. Note that customers receive different codes every time they use this system; as soon as a transaction has gone through, that code is voided. This system not only makes ATM transactions more convenient for customers, but it benefits banks as well, in that it uses a cloud server rather than a bank’s computer. As a result, banks don’t need to use as much power on any given day. Further, banks do not have to pay for paper and printer ink to print out receipts.
The Diebold system also allows people to use their smartphones to “wire” money to others. Let’s say your son is on a spring break trip and loses his wallet and all his cash, and he has no bank account from which to withdraw money. All you have to do under such circumstances is use your ATM app to select an amount of money to withdraw. You will receive a code which you can send to your son’s smartphone. He can then go to an ATM, enter that code and withdraw the amount of cash you selected. Again, this code is a one-time-only code.
It may surprise you to learn that banks generally do not have to do much work in order to make their ATMs compatible with smartphones. In most cases, all a bank must do is update its ATM software and add a barcode scanner to each machine.
In the future, automatic teller machines might become even more interactive. The aforementioned company NCR is teaming up with a company headquartered in Utah called uGenius Technology to develop ATMs with video screens. These screens allow customers interact with bank tellers; the tellers are on hand to guide ATM customers through complicated transactions – transactions which, in the past, usually required speaking with a real live teller at a bank. If this technology catches on, it might mean that bank branches will not need to hire as many tellers, as a smaller number of tellers will work in central locations and help customers remotely.
Can ATM glitches affect you?
You can breathe a sigh of relief to know that the chance of something going wrong when you use an automatic teller machine is very small. But even though ATM glitches rarely happen, when they do occur they can be significant. In fact, some recent ATM issues might leave you shaking your head, and might leave bank managers trembling in fear.
Types of Outrageous ATM Glitches
When banks adopt new technologies, ATM problems sometimes result. For instance:
- June 19, 2012, a computer glitch caused by a change in company software prevented the Royal Bank of Scotland from making any payments to its customers, including payments through ATM’s. Even though the offending glitch was fixed almost right away, it spurred a chain reaction of events that led to inoperable ATM’s, among many other banking issues. These problems lasted for days and affected millions of people.
- Bank of America, which operates the U.S.’s largest network of automatic teller machines, also had a recent brush with ATM glitches caused by new technology. In the mid-2000’s, Bank of America began introducing ATM’s with scanning systems; these machines scan checks and deposit them into accounts. However, a number of these new devices refused to recognize certain checks, or did not follow through with the process of actually depositing the value of a check into a customer’s account. In a few isolated incidents, the machines completely shredded customers’ debit cards. No long-term damage was done, however; Bank of America took care of everyone who registered a complaint about these machines. And the vast majority of Bank of America’s new ATM’s worked without a hitch. Still, these incidents serve as reminders that bank customers always need to examine their bank statements to make sure they have the correct amount of money in their various accounts.
Natural disasters and mass panic can also bring about ATM glitches. In the aftermath of the terrible Japanese tsunami of 2011, thousands of ATM’s were out of order for hours. For at least one bank, Mizuho, the malfunctioning ATM’s were caused by an enormous uptick of customers trying to withdraw money from these machines.
On the other hand, sometimes ATM’s please customers too much. In 2009, Ronald Page, a retired autoworker in Detroit, found that a broken ATM in his home city was allowing him to take out all the money he wanted. So he took out $1.5 million, and he brought that cash to several casinos. He lost the entire amount. Later, prosecutors charged him with theft, and sought to have him jailed for 15 months. The lesson here: unlike in the board game Monopoly, when it comes to ATM’s in real life, there’s no such thing as an “error in your favor.” Therefore, if an ATM gives you more money than you know you have in your account, or if you go up to an ATM and find someone else’s money lying around, report the issue to a bank manager with the extra cash in hand. It’s not worth going jail over a mistake that wasn’t even yours to begin with.
Perhaps the most common “glitch” that occurs at ATM’s isn’t really a glitch at all. It’s called the “cash retract.” If you order a certain amount of cash from an ATM, but you don’t take that cash out right away, then that money will shoot back inside the ATM after 30 seconds. Imagine this scenario: you order $50 in cash from an ATM inside a bank. But just as the money is coming out, your young child runs away from you, and you have to chase her throughout the bank to retrieve her. You return more than 35 seconds later only to find your $50 is not there – it’s returned to the cash dispenser inside the machine. Yet it’s likely you’ll still have that $50 deducted from your account. What you should do in such a situation is let a bank employee know about it right away, so you can be sure that you’ll be reimbursed.
In fact, that really is an important message to repeat and to end on: whenever you are the victim of any kind of ATM glitch, notify your bank immediately, as doing so offers you the best chance of getting fully and promptly compensated.Read More
ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide (Part 1)
Our hope is that this ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide helps you navigate some of the known pitfalls in the business. This will be a three part series. Be sure to click the next part in the series at the bottom of each post when you’re ready to proceed.
All kinds of businesses now maintain automatic teller machines, including supermarkets and restaurants. That’s because ATM’s offer several benefits to business owners.
When you set up an ATM inside your establishment, you may see a spike in the number of your customers. And, with that source of money at hand, some of your customers may be inclined to spend more money. In addition, you might also find that you start receiving fewer checks which means less risk at the point of sale. Of course, you’ll also end up paying fewer processing fees for credit cards as well. But what things should you know before you go out and purchase one or more of these machines?
First, do some research and a few calculations before you contact an ATM vendor. Figure out, roughly, how many people come into your business on an average day. If that number is fewer than 150, and certainly if it’s fewer than 100, getting an ATM may not have an attractive ROI, however the other benefits may be what you’re looking for. Just because you have minimal traffic in your location doesn’t mean your ATM won’t be worth the investment.
We’ve been in the ATM business for over 2 decades now and we’ve seen over the past few years that the general rule of thumb for the number of monthly transactions that your ATM will perform is relative to the the number of people that come into your establishment plus or minus a factor of 10% – 15% depending on the location, type of establishment and several other factors.
If for example you have a high end restaurant with table cloths and a bar, your ATM machine will perform much lower than these averages since this type of clientele typically pays with a credit card. If however you have a quick service restaurant, a bar and grill, local tavern, a nightclub or even a commercial building or parking lot we have seen these types of locations do very well, especially if the business does not accept credit cards. We have also seen customers convert from credit and debit cards to ATM usage with the implementation of coupons or other incentives for use.
One of the best ways to tell if buying an ATM for your location is right for you is to speak to your customers. Ask them if they’d be interested in using an ATM if you had one at your place, or if you often get requests or if customers ask where the nearest ATM machines is, that is a good indication that it would be a wise investment. Obviously, if you get some positive feedback from your clients, you can advance to the next step: figuring out what kind of automatic teller machine to purchase.
The most common kind of ATM is the kind that stands up on its own, also known as a “free standing ATM”. These free standing ATM machines require approx 3 sq ft in front of them for ADA compliance (about 36″ for a wheel chair). The machines themselves have a very small foot print and run anywhere from 14″ x 14″ up to 20″ x 20″ still relatively very little floor space for the return on investment. Even with the diminutive size of the newest free standing ATM machines, if you don’t think you have enough room, you might opt for some of the newest tabletop or counter top models.
Alternatively, you may even consider purchasing an ATM that’s inserted into a wall (also known as a Thru-the-Wall “TTW” model), although this is often a great option for a place of business to plan for during tenant improvements, it is still fairly easy to cut a hole in a wall and retrofit it for a TTW ATM. While these thru-the-wall ATM machines costs a little more than the free standing machines, they are perfect for exterior installations such as sidewalk facing locations or locations facing a parking lot or a busy downtown location.
These machines typically have much higher usage since they are exposed to walk by traffic 24 hours a day. If you are considering a TTW ATM, you’ll still need to consider space for the inside part of the ATM which is typically less than a free standing ATM since the ADA portion of the ATM is outside and usually unobstructed. While it is more expensive to install a TTW unit due to the additional construction costs you’ll also need to consider the timing of the install to minimize the noise and descriptiveness of the construction which can typically be completed in a weekend.
Another choice is the outdoor ATM. (These ATM’s may also be inserted into a wall.) Outdoor ATM’s can be used 24 hours a day, and therefore they let you collect ATM fees 24 hours a day! This option, obviously, will save you interior space, too. A downside to an outdoor ATM however, is that depending on the location, your outdoor ATM may require proper lighting so people will feel safe using the ATM; and, depending on the area, you may consider some sort of surveillance cameras. Most outdoor ATM machines are weather protected but if you want the highest possible usage, you’d be smart to consider some kind of protection from the weather for the ATM users, again depending on the type of deployment and the weather in the area. While outdoor ATM’s can be more expensive to keep up, they typically have much higher usage and therefor justify the expense.
Keeping your motivation in mind, this ATM Machine Buyer’s guide is meant to help you not only decide if an ATM is right for you as a business, but is it right for the location where you’re going to put it, and, will your customers use it. If you’re main motivation is to offset credit card fees, almost certainly a free standing ATM will help with that. If you’re motivation is to make more money just from the ATM usage, a thru-the-wall machine available 24 hours will product much more profit in the right installation.
Your ATM decision-making process doesn’t stop there. A list of other questions you need to answer would include: See ATM Machines, A Buyer’s Guide part 2.Read More