#TAWKIt Ep 6: Tales of an ATM


The Automated Teller Machine was first introduced in 1989 but seemed to have been reestablished in 2004 when payment systems underwent modernization and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reintroduced policies towards its evolution of digital banking in the economy.

We’ve become so used to the ATM, that we forget how cumbersome cash transactions were.

This week’s “Tech As We Know It” explores that and some experiences associated with ATMs.

The secretive nature revealed

When the ATM was first introduced, the golden rule of owning an ATM card was to never reveal your pin.

Therefore, it was essential to ensure no one was looking over your shoulder to see you punch in your “secret pin”.

This instruction may have been taken too seriously as some people revealed just how secretive they were, resorting to using scarfs or imploring another friend to act as body shield.

But hey, it’s how best they knew how to be yeah…No Judging.

Long queues

The major purpose of ATMs was to decongest banking halls.

With some people still attached to the halls especially the non-millennials, banks had to introduce an over the counter charge resulting in longer queues at ATMs.

This wasn’t supposed to be that bad, it just had a lot to do with the usage.

With the banking hall not an option and few ATMs, you had to join these long queues which were sometimes stoked by machines temporarily out of service or members of the NCP.

NCP (No Conscience Party/People) explained

There are various categories and an inexhaustible list of people who use ATMs. They can all be grouped however under the “No Conscience Party” as everything would boil down to the various degrees of inconsideration they display while using the ATM.

Forerunners would be those who withdraw large sums of money when there is a very long queue waiting.

These are the issues affecting the country.

This word!

The dictionary definition: To give out something to people.

Our definition:  To save a soul by acting as programmed by the bank operative.

“Is it dispensing?” is a question that may be asked in certain scenarios:

  • When you just join a queue, or are next in line to someone who uses the ATM so fast you didn’t even notice he/she had made a withdrawal and put the money away (as some people may just be checking their account balance).
  • Those rare but wonderful moments when there’s no queue at the ATM with just one or two people there. Then you’d have to ask the person who you figure has just completed a transaction.
  • In reference to a particular machine when it seems to be out of service because there’s no one heading in its direction.

Isn’t it really relieving being in a queue with swift ATM users? Especially when it’s the person just before you?

The feeling you get when you step forward to make your withdrawal especially when you have to step on to an elevated platform is underrated. You would then feel the need to prove a point of showing “how it’s done” by being swift about your transaction time. For some strange reason, guys often pull this move of swift transactions.

Charges and you

A simple question begging on the lips and constantly on the minds of customers of Nigerian banks is to know who they offended. As the unrelenting charges from these banks can only mean one thing: They Are Out to Get You!

Just like other bank charges, the ATM is no exception with:

  • A N65 charge on third withdrawals on ATMs of banks other than yours which led to the culture of people using ATMs of their banks to avoid extra charges.
  • Card Maintenance Charge (we’re still sad about).

Machine crunch

ATMs seem to be more tolerant of cards now or maybe we’re better enlightened.

There was an era where “card swallowing was a thing” and it was quite frustrating. It was usually more frustrating when the card stuck in the machine was the card of another bank which was usually followed by some cumbersome interbank placement.

It wasn’t a pleasant wait.

A short depiction of the phases within the wait period

Everything is not “Double-Double”

The thought of money leaving your account is already sad enough as opposed to a “credit”, so when a debit is made on your account twice, it means “war”.

This usually happens when there is a network failure when making withdrawals, or with payment using the Point Of Sale (POS).

Because we love change

As an everyday Nigerian, you always need change. Change for bus fares, recharge cards, sometimes just to look at, basically just change. So, stumbling on an ATM that dispenses lower denominations N500 {or less} is bliss.

Here are some security tips you might find useful with usage of the ATM

It is advisable not to use ATMs in deserted or secluded areas; especially in the evenings or nights.

Always beckon on the bank security/operatives/official to help customers who may have issues operating the machine.

It is advisable not to withdraw large sums of money at once especially if your travel would include boarding a mode of public transport. There should be ATMs wherever you’re headed and other methods of cash transactions.

 PS The screens of ATMs are surveillance cameras, you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the law.

The idea of money being something physical is almost entirely a fiction. Sure, you can go to your ATM and pull out cash. And you can feel cash in your back pocket and have some tangible comfort there – but in reality, the majority of your money is a number on a screen

Tyler Winklevoss

Have more to share on the ATM and us? Please share some of your experiences.

What are your thoughts on the ATM culture of printing receipts……a necessity or not?

We’d love to read from you in the comment section.


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