A portable ATM, or automated teller machine, is mainly designed for use on a temporary basis. This could include use at sporting events or festivals where customers do not have easy access to fixed-position ATMs. In most cases, a portable ATM works over a wireless communications network with appropriate security safeguards.
A portable ATM generally does not need any sort of wired data connection. Instead, the only technical requirement is access to a power supply, which can usually be a standard power outlet. However, most suppliers will work with the event organizer to find a suitable location for the machine, with a particular emphasis on lighting and security so that customers can get money out safely even after dark.
There is a wide variety of designs for the housing of such ATMs. Some are as simple as a small marquee to protect the machines from rain or more extreme weather. In other cases, the ATMs may come inside a trailer or other portable cabin building.
The ATM communicates with the electronic banking system via wireless telecoms. This is a separate network to phone network, which means it is not affected by local telephone use. This can be important as mobile phone networks often experience problems at events such as festivals, when use is considerably higher than at other times and places. The communications system used by the ATMs will be encrypted much more securely than standard voice or data wireless use.
Although suppliers refer to "portable ATM rental," there is often no charge to have the machines at an event. This is because the supplier makes its money by charging a service fee to the people who withdraw cash. This is deducted from the customers' bank accounts.
The most common set up is for a portable ATM to be delivered by the supplier in an empty state. The supplier will then hire a local security company take cash to the venue to load the machine. This company will then collect any remaining cash at the end of the event.
A company offering a portable ATM service will normally require a minimum number of people to be attending the event for which the ATM is rented. This is usually in the range of 5,000. This is to make sure the ATM gets enough use that the company is not missing out on higher revenues elsewhere. People organizing smaller events will normally be asked to provide a deposit that may or may not be refundable, depending on the level of transactions reached during the event.