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Happy 50th birthday ATM!

The first ATM was put into use by Barclays in Enfield on 27 June 1967. As it was before plastic cards, it worked by inserting paper cheques marked with a mildly radioactive material to dispense a maximum of £10. The inventor, John Shepherd-Barron said "It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money, anywhere in the world or the UK. I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash."

But don’t worry if you miss this birthday celebration. Next month, it is the 50th anniversary of the NatWest ATM. James Goodfellow successfully demonstrated a punch card model with a PIN that were installed at branches of Westminster Bank (later to become NatWest) in July 1967.

In the past, we have seen references to pensions and ATMs. Stakeholder pensions were launched with this idea, that you could pop some money into your pension at the checkout in your supermarket. More recently, we had talk with the pension freedoms that accessing your pension will be as easy as going to the cashpoint. Of course, the reality was different, as it many people had to move from one type of pension to a newer pension, in order to access the new legislation.

This is one of the reasons why pensions are special. By definition, by the time that you access your pension, it will be 30-40 years old and based on T&Cs and legislation that is from yester year. Getting information about old contracts is extremely difficult – try searching for Section 32 buyouts – but with knowledge of how the contract works, it is impossible to make informed decisions.

We see a critical role at TPAS is identifying the type of pension that the customer has in order that they know the options available specifically to them. As providers increasingly outsource their customer service or put it online, it becomes critical that we help customers at the start of the journey understand what pension they have got in order that they can make the most of their money.

We have probably seen the peak in ATMs and it will probably decline as money transactions on phones increase. The legacy of ATMs will be short lived with  a reworking of shop fronts or bank floors. The legacy of pensions will last longer and is one of the reasons that pensions should be seen as special.

If you've got a question about your pension please contact us on 0300 123 1047 (Monday- Friday 9-5, excluding bank holidays).

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