ATM card

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An ATM card is any payment card issued by a financial institution that enables a customer to access an automated teller machine (ATM) in order to perform transactions such as deposits, cash withdrawals, obtaining account information, etc. ATM cards are known by a variety of names such as bank card, MAC (money access card), client card, key card or cash card, among others. Most payment cards, such as debit and credit cards can also function as ATM cards, although ATM-only cards are also available. Charge and proprietary cards cannot be used as ATM cards. The use of a credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM is treated differently to a POS transaction, usually attracting interest charges from the date of the cash withdrawal. Interbank networks allow the use of ATM cards at ATMs of private operators and financial institutions other than those of the institution that issued the cards.

ATM cards can also be used on improvised ATMs such as "mini ATMs", merchants' card terminals that deliver ATM features without any cash drawer.[1][2] These terminals can also be used as cashless scrip ATMs by cashing the receipts they issue at the merchant's point of sale.[3]

The first ATM cards were issued in 1967 by Barclays in London.[4]


The size of ATM cards is 85.60 × 53.98 mm (3.370 × 2.125 in) and rounded corners with a radius of 2.88–3.48 mm, in accordance with ISO/IEC 7810#ID-1, the same size as other payment cards, such as credit, debit and other cards. They also have an embossed bank card number conforming with the ISO/IEC 7812 numbering standard.

Non-ATM uses

Some ATM cards can also be used:

  • at a branch, as identification for in-person transactions
  • at Automated Teller Machines for banking transactions (deposits, checking the balance of an account, transferring money between accounts and cash withdrawals)

The ability to use an ATM card for in-store EFTPOS purchases or refunds is no longer allowed. Bank's have long argued with merchants over the fees that can be charged by the bank for such transactions. Despite the fact that ATM cards require a PIN for use, the banks have decided to require the use of a non-PIN based card (debit or credit) for all merchant transactions.

For other types of transactions through telephone or online banking, this may be performed with an ATM card without in-person authentication. This includes account balance inquiries, electronic bill payments, or in some cases, online purchases (see Interac Online).

Card networks

In some banking networks, the two functions of ATM cards and debit cards are combined into a single card, simply called a "debit card" or also commonly a "bank card". These are able to perform banking tasks at ATMs and also make point-of-sale transactions, with both features using a PIN.

Canada's Interac and Europe's Maestro are examples of networks that link bank accounts with point-of-sale equipment.

Some debit card networks also started their lives as ATM card networks before evolving into full-fledged debit card networks, example of these networks are: Development Bank of Singapore (DBS)'s Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS) and Bank Central Asia (BCA)'s Debit BCA, both of them were later on adopted by other banks (with Prima Debit being the Prima interbank network version of Debit BCA).


Due to increased illegal copies of cards with a magnetic stripe, the European Payments Council established a Card Fraud Prevention Task Force in 2003 that spawned a commitment to migrate all ATMs and POS applications to use a chip-and-PIN solution until the end of 2010.[5] The "SEPA for Cards"[6] has completely removed the magnetic stripe requirement from the former Maestro debit cards.

See also


  1. "Permata Mini ATM"
  2. "Mini ATM BRI"
  3. "Cashless Scrip ATM Terminals"
  4. Jarunee Wonglimpiyara, Strategies of Competition in the Bank Card Business (2005), p. 1-3.
  5. "EPC Card Fraud Prevention Forum - Agreement on new measures to fight card fraud", 19. July 2010 by Cédric Sarazin
  6. "SEPA for Cards", the SEPA Cards Framework and EPC Cards Standardisation Programme, accessed 06. August 2010