50 years on from the first ATM – how are we paying for things now?

50 years ago on 27 June 1967, Barclays installed the world's first cash machine (ATM) at its Enfield branch in north London, but how have payments changed since then? In 1976 you could withdraw no more than £10 at a time using a special voucher and a personal six-figure code. Last year we withdrew £129 billion from the 70,000+ ATMs across the UK (LINK). There are currently more free-to-use ATMs than ever before.


Credit: Barclay card


Credit: Barclays


You can now spend up to £30 at the touch of a contactless card. There are 107.4m contactless cards across the UK (UK Cards Association), and in 2016 we made almost 2.9 billion contactless payments, more than 2.7 times the amount in 2015 (Payments UK). 7% of all payments were made with contactless cards in 2016. This is predicted to rise to 27% by 2026 (Payments UK).

You can also use contactless to travel. In London 1.8 million contactless journeys take place every weekday, across the transport network. Mobile payments are also on the increase with 8% of contactless journeys coming from devices with software like Apple or Android pay.

Cheque imaging 

There were 478 million cheques written in 2016, worth approximately £600 billion (Cheque and Credit Clearing Company). Currently it can take 6 working days to clear one of the 1.4 million cheques issued each day (Cheque and Credit Clearing Company).

By the end of 2018, 6 working days will be cut to 1 as banks use images of the cheque to speed up the process. Some banks may offer customers the ability to pay in cheques with using their smartphone to take a photo of the cheque.


Traditional banks, challenger banks and new digital banks like Monzo, Atom and Starling are all are using technology to make managing your money easier on the move. The Faster Payment Service means mobile, internet, and telephone payments can be made within hours – sometimes seconds.

The future

Credit: PA

From 2018, if you give permission financial companies will be able to securely share your information with authorised companies. This means companies can offer new technologies to make banking easier for you. This could include new ways of managing your accounts, making payments and technologies we can't yet imagine.

By 2026, online and mobile payments like Paypal, Android Pay and Apple Pay are forecast to grow 66% to over 800 million payments (Payments UK).

You have been able to top up a phone at an ATM since 2002, but the ATMs of the future could let you withdraw cash with your mobile, an eye or fingerprint scan or even a selfie.

Is cash still relevant?

Credit: Bank of England

With all the innovation in payments you might think that cash is becoming irrelevant, but we made 15.4 billion cash payments in 2016 making it the most frequently used payment method (Payments UK).

By 2026 cash is still predicted to be the 2nd most frequently used payment method in the UK (Payments UK). Our cash is being improved to be more secure and durable. The Bank of England has printed 440 million new fivers and the Royal Mint will strike 1.7 billion new pound coins. The new £5 notes are expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the paper notes and the new £1 coin is difficult to counterfeit as it is the world's most secure coin. You will see more plastic bank notes with the £10 note featuring Jane Austen starting to appear from September 2017 and a new £20 note featuring JMW Turner by 2020.

The government is always working with the financial services industry to ensure banking is better for everyone now and in the future.

The government is always working with the financial services industry to ensure banking is better for everyone now and in the future.