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Tweens, Teens, and ATMs

Should Teens Carry an ATM Card

Should Teens Carry an ATM Card?

The thought of your tween or teen armed with an automatic teller machine card might send shivers up your spine. After all, every place that young people go, there tend to be plenty of ATMs: at sports stadiums, concert venues, at shopping malls, and on so many city streets. You might imagine your child out with his or her friends, continually stopping at ATMs all night long so he or she can spend, spend, spend – and worry about the consequences at another time.

That doesn’t mean you should try to block your kids’ access to ATMs until they’re ready to leave for college. ATMs can provide emergency cash whenever your kids are stranded, or whenever they’ve lost a purse or wallet and need to pay for transportation home. What’s more, ATMs can teach them important lessons about monetary usage and about establishing a monthly budget and then sticking to that budget no matter what.

Setting Boundaries for your Teen’s ATM Card

It’s important to sit down with your kids before you hand them an ATM card to discuss restrictions. Just as you assign them a curfew and establish other rules, set limits as to how often they’re allowed to make ATM withdrawals, so as not to drive the cost of their ATM fees too high. Once a week is probably a good number. Also, instruct your kids to only use the ATMs belonging to their bank, again to avoid unnecessary fees. And make sure you review ATM safety guidelines with them, so they can avoid thieves and skimmers.

Sometimes it’s better to test your kids’ spending habits before entrusting them with full ATM privileges. One way to do that is by giving them a prepaid card. A prepaid card is similar to a credit card, but it uses funds that you have already deposited into an account. Every time your child makes a purchase, the amount of that purchase is deducted from the account. Once your child has demonstrated to you that he or she can spend in a responsible, thoughtful manner, and isn’t prone to splurges, you can then upgrade him or her to an ATM card. Be aware that some prepaid cards come with an ATM function, but you can usually disable that function if you want. You should realize, too, that a number of prepaid cards charge high fees.

In some ways, issuing a card for an automatic teller machine makes it easier to monitor your tween or teenager’s spending habits. If your child works, and/or you give her an allowance, then she might be spending a lot of cash without your having the slightest idea of where that money’s going. But if your son or daughter uses an ATM card to get cash as needed, you can have a clearer sense of when and where that money is being spent. Make it a requirement, therefore, that your child bring home all his ATM receipts, just as he does all his report cards. From time to time, leaf through those receipts and make sure there aren’t any huge withdrawals or suspicious locations listed.

By the same token, an ATM card can make a child more careful with cash. Think about it this way: if your child were to attend a concert with a big wad of cash that she’d saved up from her afterschool job, she might be inclined to spend the entire sum on unnecessary souvenirs. But if she has to go up to an ATM and type in a number, knowing that her parents are going to see the receipt, she might well end up spending a lot less money that evening.

Biometric ATMs

What is a Biometric ATM?

Biometric ATMA biometric ATM (automatic teller machine) recognizes a customer not by an ATM card or a personal identification number (PIN), but by some aspect of his or her own body. And banks all over the world are starting to implement this kind of technology. In Warsaw, Poland, the bank BPS has set up such ATMs. (Poland has become a technological leader in recent years.)

These machines have also appeared in banks throughout the Middle East, South America and Africa. The first biometric ATM in India was installed by ICIC in 2005, in the state of Andhara Pradesh. Today, biometric ATMs are especially popular in the rural sections of India, where many citizens seem to dislike and avoid technologies involving PIN numbers.

These machines are especially popular in Japan. In fact, millions of Japanese banking customers regularly use the nation’s tens of thousands of biometric ATMs. One bank in Japan advertised this machine with the line “you are the cash card.”

In the past, biometric devices usually scanned one or more of the following items for the purposes of identification:

  • fingerprints
  • palm prints
  • the eye, either the retina or the iris
  • vocal patterns
  • a person’s signature

The latest biometric ATMs, however, examine instead the tiny veins located just beneath the surface of skin. Everyone has his or her own unique pattern of “micro-veins” under the fingers, and reading those veins represents a much more efficient and accurate system than reading fingerprints. According to studies, biometric micro-vein ATMs will only make a mistake one in approximately one million times, which is the same rate of accuracy as the previous champion, a machine that scans irises.

How are Biometric ATMs Effective?

Biometric ATMs are an effective theft deterrent. People can leave their fingerprints on surfaces, and cunning thieves are able in some cases to lift those fingerprints, reproduce them, and use the reproductions to trick machines that read fingerprints. In some gruesome cases, it would also be possible to cut off one more of a person’s fingers and use them to fool fingerprint-reading machines. Such a hideous process would not work with vein-reading technology, though.

Additionally, with a biometric ATM there are no cards that ATM robbers can swipe, and no PIN numbers that they could skim. These ATMs are also helpful in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters. Customers who may have lost their ATM cards during such disasters would still be able to withdraw much-needed cash.

Biometric ATMs have yet to catch on in North America. Part of the reason is that many American consumers are suspicious of the idea of turning over their personal biometric information to a large bank or other corporation. Could this data be sold for the purposes of advertising and data mining? What would happen if this data were somehow stolen? It’s the kind of question that concerns privacy advocates. Another issue is that many banks feel the ATM systems they currently have in place work just fine, and they don’t see the need for costly upgrades in their automatic teller machine technology.

There’s another issue at play. Americans on the whole have become especially concerned with sanitation lately. Look at how many hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in the last ten years – they’ve been showing up not just in hospitals and nursing homes, but in shopping malls, restaurants, and even churches. Remember the swine flu scare of 2009, during which Vice President Joe Biden said on national television that he’d advise his family to avoid commercial airplanes for fear of germs? Many people in the United States, therefore, would have reservations about using this hands-on technology, especially during cold and flu seasons.

Maybe someday biometric ATMs may gain momentum in the USA but I think that’s a long way off.  If you’re considering getting into the ATM business and want more information about the type of ATM equipment that is available today, please visit our ATM equipment page or call us at 888-959–2269.

Toy ATMs

How Can I Teach My Child about ATMs

How Can I Teach My Child about ATMs?

You might be looking for a way to teach your young children basic concepts about money. Or, if you take your little ones with you when you use an automatic teller machine, you might be seeking a way to explain to them what that machine does. You may also want to dispel the notion that an ATM is some kind of magic gadget that gives people passing by as much money as they want. A toy ATM can be a great tool for teaching these lessons. Such a toy is similar to the piggy bank you might have had when you were a child – but on a whole other level.

High-quality toy ATMs work in similar ways. They look like realistic miniature versions of the real deal. And they store your child’s cash – dollar bills and coins. Your child can use its keypad to type in how much she wants to retrieve from the machine, and the machine will dispense exactly that much money. Thus, this kind of machine teaches kids about numbers and about counting money. Some toy ATM’s even come with toy ATM cards. In any event, the first few times your kids try this toy out, they’re likely to be amazed and delighted by the mechanics of it, and may want to play with it over and over again.

What is the Best Toy ATM to Purchase?

One of the best-reviewed toy ATMs on the market is the “YOUniverse Deluxe ATM Bank Machine.” Among its exciting features, this device:

  • assigns kids their own personal identification numbers
  • says hello to them personally when they enter their PINs
  • includes a cash drawer and separate slots for placing various kinds of coins and bills
  • displays flashing lights
  • plays sound effects.

All in all, this toy is sleekly-designed and highly portable.

Another terrific toy ATM is the “Deluxe ATM Toy Bank with ATM Card” from the Ohio-based company Trademark Games. This product includes alarm clock and calculator functions, and tells you the time and date. It also allows kids to enter information about how much money they wish to save and by what date, and then keeps track of how much time is left and how much additional money is needed to hit that goal.

Once children understand the basics of their toy automatic teller machine, you can teach them some more philosophical concepts about money and savings: how they should save as much of their money as they can, how they should only remove money from their account if they need something or if they really want something and can afford it. You could have them perform a simple task, like drying the dishes, and then give them a dollar for doing so, money they can put in their toy ATM. Then you can explain how what they just did mirrors what adults do: work for a wage and save that money for when it’s needed.

The toy ATM also allows parents a chance to help their kids brush up on arithmetic skills. All you have to do is have your child look at the ATM’s digital balance display and write down how much money she has. Then cover up that display and give her a certain amount of money to deposit. Before you uncover the new balance, have her use addition to figure out what that sum is. You can do a similar activity with subtraction; this time, of course, you’ll have her withdraw rather than deposit cash.

Of course, soon will come the day when your child outgrows her toy ATM and wants to use the real thing. Those are the tween and teen years. We’ll have some tips for coping with that situation next time.

Drive-Up ATMs

Drive-Up ATMs

From the time the first automatic teller machine was invented, it was probably inevitable that someone would come along and create the drive-up ATM. After all, drive-through banking, with live tellers, was first invented in 1928. Drive-up ATMs, also known as drive-through ATMs, are one of the most convenient of banking features, allowing you to withdraw cash from your account without even getting out of the car.

Drive-up ATMs can be found all over the world nowadays. While the origins of the first drive-up automatic teller machine are a bit hazy, these machines spread throughout the United States at a rapid clip throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. And the first decade of the 2000’s saw them becoming ubiquitous all over the world. In September 2001, the Standard Chartered Bank, or Stanchart, opened the first drive-up ATM in the West African nation of Ghana. In 2002, the National Commercial Bank, or NCB, opened the first drive-up ATM on the island of Jamaica. In China, Citibank opened the first drive-up ATM in the summer of 2007, at Beijing’s Upper East Side Central Plaza. In May 2008, the China Construction Bank opened a drive-up ATM in Guangzhou, southern China’s first such ATM. And today, there are plenty such ATMs throughout China; these devices just seem to have a way of catching on.

The typical drive-up ATM is a very secure device, made out of steel and concrete. After all, a drive-up ATM has to contend with all kinds of threats and dangers: would-be robbers and vandals, inclement weather, earthquakes, and drivers hitting into it. These ATMs usually come equipped with extremely loud alarm systems as well. Such alarms are especially important for drive-up ATMs located in remote places.

Using Safety and Precaution at a Drive-Up ATM:

Whenever you use a drive-up ATM, it’s important to keep safety and security in mind. Security precautions for a drive-up ATM are similar to the kinds of precautions you should take at any ATM, in the sense that you should always be acutely aware of your surroundings whenever you use any ATM.  Specifically, drive-up ATM safety practices include the following measures:

  • Before you pull up to an ATM, take a good look around in every direction to make sure you don’t see anything – or anyone – suspicious.
  • Spend as little time as possible with the ATM. Make your transaction quickly and then leave.
  • When you are waiting in line to use a drive-up ATM, make sure all your doors are locked. Don’t turn off your engine at any point, either.
  • Make sure as you are waiting in line that you can always flee the premises immediately if you have to. That means you should avoid getting sandwiched in between other vehicles, or between another vehicle and the building.
  • If anyone approaches your window, drive away. Now is not the time to be friendly or try to be helpful.
  • Try to use a drive-up ATM only during daylight hours.
  • Keep your cell phone in your lap when you’re at a drive-up ATM. Then, after you withdraw your money, watch your rearview mirrors closely to make sure that no one is following you. If someone does appear to be following you, call the police.

By the way, if you search the Internet for “drive-up” ATMs, you’re bound to find in your search results this famous rhetorical question: “Why do drive-up ATMs have Braille on their keys?” The answer to this question is simple. The law requires that drive-up ATMs include Braille so that people with visual impairments who are riding in an automobile as passengers, or who might be taking a cab, can use these ATMs as well.

The Origins of the ATM Part 2

When Did the ATM come to the United States

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.