Daniel Littman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has published a review of Tom Harper and Bernardo Batiz-Lazo’s 2013 book “Cashbox: The Invention and Globalization of the ATM.”
The banking and payments industries are rarely the focus of popular or accessible studies of innovation. But these industries have their share of everyday objects that have come to represent consumers’ relationship with the payments system and with their own bank accounts. Take, for instance, banknotes, coins, and checks, which emerged centuries ago, as well as credit cards, ATMs, and debit cards (invented in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, respectively). These objects have innovation histories just as messy, incremental, and surprising as the light bulb.
A new book, Cash Box: The Invention and Globalization of the ATM, takes banking innovation out of the darkness and gives it the credit it deserves as an everyday object with which consumers across the world regularly interact—and take for granted as part of the modern landscape.