“I designed my first ATM a few years ago”, said Emlyn Lee-Jones during his recent visit to the office of Cardtronics UK, “that was when I was four years old.”
Paul Taylor, who leads Cardtronics UK’s Product and Innovation division, had invited 7-year-old Emyln after hearing that the young inventor was keen to show his latest ATM model to the largest operator of cash machines in the world.
In the UK ATM innovation hub, Cardtronics’ engineers marvelled at the simplicity and ingenuity of the young boy’s cash machine model: His ATM is driven by a small Raspberry Pi
computer that has been programmed in the child-friendly Scratch
programming language. The fascia is made of LEGO
bricks, with a big LEGO sign reading “E-Bank.”
Emlyn demonstrates his machine
A screen with six buttons, three on each side, guides the user though the withdrawal process after a card has been read by an NFC (near-field communication) device. Once users have typed in their individual PINs on the numeric key pad, a dispenser made of LEGO WeDo
issues custom-made Pound banknotes designed and emblazoned with the face of their inventor, Emlyn. [Editor’s Note: NFC enables electronic devices, such as a smartphone, to communicate with another device, such as an ATM or POS machine.]
“We have invited Emlyn to see his great invention and learn a thing or two as ATM veterans,” said Taylor, while demonstrating to his young guest how Cardtronics’ cash-in-transit crews refill the company’s 16,000 machines in the UK. “When it comes to our machines, we like to get creative – and, as always, the best ideas are often right in front of us,” Taylor continued.
Close up of Emlyn’s e-Bank (on right) and his custom-made banknotes and cards.
Just a few days earlier, the Cardtronics UK team had hosted a competition of product design students from the local University of Hertfordshire
who presented their vision of the “ATM of the future.” One entrant pointed out the risks of cash trapping
, where a criminal attaches to the ATM a device that traps cash as it is being dispensed, keeping the customer from being able to retrieve the cash. The criminal then returns to the ATM and takes the trapped cash.
“Cash trapping would be much more difficult if your dispenser would be in the style of a disk feeder like you can find it on a PlayStation 4,” said a second-year student during a demonstration on improving ATM security.
Other presentations focused on the interaction between ATMs and mobile phones, and the ATM as a substitute for rural bank branches. The winner of the competition has been given the opportunity to join the Cardtronics team for an internship in the summer. “Our growth strategy does not only mean that we are reaching out to new territories, but we also continue to reach out to the next generations – in terms of customers and our team members,” said Taylor.
Earlier this year, research by Cardtronics
in the United States showed that cash continues to play a pivotal role in peoples’ lives – especially for Millennials. While more than half (57 percent) of Millennials reported using a greater variety of payment methods than before, nearly half (45 percent) of that group also said that they're more likely to pay more with cash now than they did a few years ago. In fact, Millennials reported increased cash usage at the greatest clip compared with all other survey respondents.
“Cash and cash machines are here to stay – for many more generations,” commented Taylor while saying goodbye to young Emlyn Lee-Jones. Leaving the building, Emlyn said to his father, “The ATM of the future will definitely have touch screens. When I’m at home, I will try and build one myself.”
Commercial Director, UK and Ireland