By Greg Floyd
Vice President, Deposit Compliance Services
Mike Jones knows ATMs. He really knows INB ATMs. For 15 years, he’s been our ATM guy. Before that, he spent 21 years in ATM and electronic funds transfer switching.
Today, he makes sure INB ATMs have money and supplies. He makes sure they work. He makes sure our portable machine is on site for special events. He makes sure the property surrounding INB ATMs is neat and clean. He knows ATM software and hardware. He truly enjoys talking ATMs.
Mike can thank Luther Simjian for his job. Luther is credited with building the first Bankmatic – Automated Teller Machine – in 1959. He registered 20 patents before convincing a bank to use it in a six-month trial. It didn’t get a lot of use. Simian wrote: “It seems the only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn’t want to deal with tellers face to face.”
While Luther never found commercial success with his Bankmatic, both John Shepherd-Brown and Donald Wetzel did. According to the History Channel, Shepherd-Bacon had his flash of genius by asking himself, “If vending machines could dispense chocolate bars, why not cash?” His invention dispensed cash thanks to a paper voucher printed with radioactive ink that the machine read.
The first machine to use plastic cards was invented by Wetzel. He used plastic cards with a magnetic strip. The first “Wetzel” machine was installed in 1969.
By 1970, banks nationwide started installing machines. They really caught on in the late 70s when a huge New York blizzard shut banks for days. During that time, ATM use increased 20 percent. At the time, each bank owned its own machines and they did not interact with other bank ATMs.
What Happens in Springfield Goes Nationwide
Mike Jones says, “Springfield has a colorful history in ATMs. The first ATMs appeared in the mid 70s, but were run directly by the owning bank through a mainframe computer and were only for the use of their own customers.” That was about to change thanks for work done in Springfield.
He explains the national banks were the first in Illinois to roll out a fully shared, online ATM network for themselves as well as their competition. He says, “Branch banks were still prohibited in Illinois in 1980, and the national banks saw ATMs as a way to extend their reach. It was very cutting edge technology for the time.”
“About this same time,” continues Mike, “the original INB joined forces with the original Springfield Marine Bank and formed an electronic ATM switch capable of driving ATMs and authorizing transactions live, which was unheard of at the time.” Mike was part of the team that made this “Answer Switch,” a reality.
“At the same time, another local bank developed the Easy Teller system. The competitors ultimately merged forming the ‘Easy Answer’ ATM network.”
Mike continues: “ATMs in Springfield were mostly owned by three big banks since they were very expensive ($50,000) and small banks merely issued cards and shared as the big banks installed ATMs. In 1979 there were only a handful of ATMs in town; by 1981 there were about 30, and sharing eliminated the need for multiple ATMs on a site, such as at Sangamon Center North where there were two side by side.”
And that leads to a little of Mike’s personal history: “By 1983 we drove 200 ATMs all over Illinois and were the dominate player outside of Chicago. In 1983, we attracted the attention of ADP who lost a national contract by Kroger to Easy Answer to pilot POS (point of sale) terminals in their stores. ADP made a cash offer to buy Easy Answer in 1983, and we were sold and became ADP employees.”
He also noted the national banks saw ATMs as the answer to getting around a now defunct Illinois law restricting where banks could have branches. ATMs solved that problem because ATMs could go anywhere. At the same time, another rule said bank customers could only use an ATM located contiguous to their own county and in their own county. That meant INB’s Springfield customers could only use ATMs in Sangamon, Menard or Logan County. Mclean was off limits.
Today, you can use virtually any ATM machine worldwide to access money in your bank accounts. That’s a far cry from the 70s and 80s, when each bank had its own machines. These advancements were possible thanks to the technology developed in Springfield in the 1980s. Mike is proud to have been part of that team. Now he takes care of 21 ATMs owned by INB. He also makes sure customers have no difficulty using the MoneyPass network that INB recently joined.
Some ATM stats:
- According to the online resource Statistic Brain, there are 425,000 ATMs in the United States and 3 million in use across the world. Here are some other interesting facts:
- Percent of U.S. ATM machines owned by financial institutions, 48%
- Average number of Transactions per ATM Machine per month, 800
- Average ATM withdrawal amount, $60
- Average number of times a person visits an ATM machine per month, 7.4
- Number of new ATM machines installed each day in the world, 280