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What is a Cashless ATM?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 16, 2024
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A cashless ATM is a small machine that runs a customer’s banking card to make a withdrawal and prints a receipt that can be redeemed for cash rather than dispensing cash itself. These machines are usually much smaller than cash ATMs and can be placed on countertops in convenient locations for customers. To use the ATM, the customer slides his or her card through the reader, inputs his or her pin, selects the amount of money to be withdrawn, and takes the resulting receipt of their transaction to the cashier. The business owner who owns the ATM usually makes a profit on every transaction, making the use of these machines a potentially lucrative business venture.

Some people have alternative names for cashless ATM machines. For instance, the machines are sometimes called scrip cash dispensers, or scrip ATMs. This is because the receipt dispensed by the machine is called a scrip.

Typically, a cashless ATM charges customers a fee comparable to that charged by cash ATMs, but these machines have fewer breakable parts and take up less space. The primary disadvantage for businesses using these machines is that a cashier must be available to dispense cash whenever the ATM is used. Additionally, it is possible to make counterfeit cashless ATM receipts. Overall, though, in businesses where the cashier is usually not busy, it is thought that a cashless ATM may be more economical than a cash ATM.

For customers, there is generally no practical difference between using a cashless ATM and a cash ATM. The inconvenience of having to potentially wait in line for a cashier is usually not enough to dissuade a customer from taking money out of the ATM. Most customers expect the fees associated with withdrawing cash and are therefore not resentful of those fees, even though the business owner has invested less in the machine.

Business owners who use cashless ATMs, on the other hand, may experience problems with using this kind of machine. For instance, customers getting out cash can tie up a cashier and prevent him or her from helping customers. Also, the additional cash withdrawn using the machine may necessitate keeping more money in the register. The fees associated with the machine for merchants and the initial investment may be smaller than for a cash ATM, but use of the machine may not justify these costs. Whether or not the machine is appropriate for a business largely depends on the business itself and the banking needs of customers served.

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