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Kempner: 50 years later, ATMs try not to show their age

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

by Matt Kempner

Remember when cash was king?

When cash really ruled, ATMs seemed like one of the world’s great inventions for letting consumers be consumers.

Now, banks and other financial companies are looking for new ways to make the machines do our bidding beyond cash withdrawals and checking balances.

But a bunch of Americans, me included, don’t use ATMs much any more. A couple pups just out of college told me it had been at least a year since they last sidled up to one. Cash isn’t dead, but there’s ample evidence it’s fading.

This summer is the 50th anniversary of the automated teller machine. Labeled early on as a “robot cashier,” it was an early step in the empowerment of consumers — and in the ability of businesses to get customers to shoulder some of the workload.

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