Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)

Not all banks or financial institutions have ATMs. Before ATMs, banks employed tellers to help their customers conduct all their banking business. Because ATMs can inexpensively perform many of the functions formerly done by tellers, ATMs have replaced many tellers in the banking institution. There are no laws requiring banks or other financial institutions to have ATMs. Instead, having one is a business decision for each bank. ATMs offer distinct advantages over traditional teller operations in terms of their locations and hours of operation. ATMs are relatively small and can be placed where banks would not ordinarily open a branch (gas stations, hotel lobbies, airports). Furthermore, ATMs are open when banks are closed; ATMs can function for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

There has been a process of homogenization in the banking and financial industries. Services appear to be similar in many types of institutions. Nevertheless, some important differences among institutions remain. These differences may exist among banking institutions within a single state, and among the same type of institution from state to state. For example, a Missouri state chartered bank may have authority to conduct certain forms of business that are very different from those of a Missouri savings bank. Likewise, a Missouri savings and loan may have different powers from a Missouri national bank. These various rules and powers result in a difference in services among the spectrum of financial institutions. These differences can affect factors like interest rates, issuance of credit cards, ATM services, and so forth.

ATMs can be cost effective to operate when compared to the cost of hiring and training bank tellers. Even so, there are costs associated with owning and operating ATMs, including the costs for the following:

  • buying the machine
  • renting space for the ATM
  • maintaining the ATM’s mechanical parts
  • paying personnel to load it with money and remove deposits (if any)

Banks or other financial institutions may charge patrons for using their bank’s ATM as long as the bank or financial institution informs patrons of the terms and conditions of their accounts, and all applicable charges. This information is often contained in the monthly statements. On the other hand, if individuals use an ATM that does not belong to their own bank, the ATM’s owner can charge them for using it. This is true even though they are gaining access to their own money kept in their own bank. Likewise, a bank can also charge its patrons for using someone else’s ATM machine. In this way, individuals may incur two charges for using an ATM that does not belong to the bank or financial institution at which they are customers.


Inside Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)