Withdrawing money from an ATM

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Withdrawing money from an ATM

The author is a national team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

The first ATM machine was installed by Barclays Bank in 1967 at its Enfield branch in west London. The machine was invented by John Shepard Barron (1925-2010), who was inspired by a chocolate vending machine. In an interview with the BBC, he said that pin numbers were originally six digits, the same as his military ID.

But after his wife said that four digits was more convenient, he changed the plan. Now, it has become the global standard. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first ATM, Barclays Bank painted the location of the first ATM machine gold in 2017.

ATMs were the symbol of innovation. But after half a century, they are less frequently used due to the changing environment in finance. People use cash less often, as you can purchase a pack of gum with a credit card, and online banking and simple remittance services have become common.

According to the Financial Statistical Information System of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), there were 33,944 ATMs in Korea as of the end of last year. That’s half the 75,094 ATMs that were operating in the country in 2013.

There are people who reject change and stick to ATMs. They are the voice phishing criminal organizations. They impersonate people working for the FSS or the prosecutors’ office and deceive elderly people unfamiliar with internet banking to send money. The thugs usually say, “Don’t hang up the phone, go to the ATM and follow my instructions.” They are afraid that bank tellers would be suspicious.

Recently, Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon compared the moral hazard of civic groups to ATMs. On Sept. 13, he said that the treasury of Seoul filled with taxpayers’ money had become an ATM for civic groups.” He claims that for the 10 years of the late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s administration, nearly 1 trillion won ($844.6 million) was spent on subsidies and commissioned projects for civic groups. Oh argued that civil servants who came from those civic groups took care of other groups in society.

Civic groups strongly protest that Oh is trying to erase former mayor Park Won-sun’s legacy. But you don’t have to blindly criticize such complaints from the civic groups, as this can offer an opportunity to tell the truth through a thorough inspection.

Wouldn’t Seoul citizens want that to happen? There is no reason for civil servants not to make their “transaction records” with civic groups available to the people of Seoul, who are the real owners of the deposits, unless they actually pocketed that money like the voice phishing rings.

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