Discovery of some of the earliest cashpoint cards harks back to cash revolution

Rooting among stuff in an old writing box the other day, Mike Bickford chanced across a clutch of historic items – some of the world's first ever cashpoint cards.

One of Mike's historic cashpoint cards from the 1960s.
One of Mike's historic cashpoint cards from the 1960s.

He used them back in the 1960s to make withdrawals from an ATM which had been installed by his bank in The Square, Shrewsbury.

Back then the machine would swallow your card every time.

And as the world's first ATM – automated teller machine – was opened by Barclays in Enfield, north London, on June 27, 1967, Mike's cards from around that era must be rare survivors.

A plaque in Enfield marking the site of the world's first cash machine, opened in 1967.

Retired fire officer Mike, from Oswestry, said: "I was looking for something from the past that I keep in a very old writing box when I came across what I believe to be the first type of ATM cash cards. These predated the current debit card/ATM card.

"I opened my first current account in about 1963 with what was then known as William Deacons Bank, later to become Williams and Glyn's Bank, located in The Square, Shrewsbury. The bank was later taken over by RBS.

The Square, Shrewsbury, in the 1960s – site of Shropshire's first cash machine?

"Sometime around 1966 I received from the bank a letter together with four or five 'punch cards'. They were about the size of the current cards.

"The letter informed me that they were installing what is now known as an ATM machine for use 'out of hours' to withdraw £10 – I think it was £10 but may have been £5. The card was retained during the transaction and returned at the end of the month with the usual monthly statement. The cards could then be re-used.

"These cards were quite flimsy and plastic. They had a series of rectangular punch holes in them which obviously identified the owner.

"I cannot remember but I do not believe that there was any need to input any security data. If I remember correctly it did not have an interactive screen, just a slot to put the card into. You just inserted the card and out came the cash. The number of transactions in a month was limited to the number of cards issued.

"I believe I may have had five altogether which would have allowed me to withdraw £50 per month, especially during 'out-of-hours'. I cannot remember the year of issue but I think it may have been around 1966 or 1967.

"Until the arrival of the more sophisticated cards that we know today I did not know of any other bank that had this system.

Cashpoints remain a familiar sight, although the pandemic lockdown saw their use plummet.

"In spite of asking over the years I have not come across anyone else that has heard of them.

"I still have at least four of the cards. Of course this idea may have been widespread and I just did not hear about it."

An early "NatWest Service Till" is opened in Wellington by 90-year-old Hedley Smith, NatWest's oldest customer in the town who had opened his account with the then National Provincial Bank in 1930.

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