The Evolution of Self-Service Technology: From ATMs to Kiosks


The Evolution of Self-Service Technology: From ATMs to Kiosks


Self-service technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, revolutionizing the way we interact with various services. One of the key milestones in this evolution has been the advent of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the late 1960s. Since then, the industry has not looked back and has continued to innovate, giving rise to self-service kiosks across various sectors. In this article, we will explore how self-service technology has evolved, from the early days of ATMs to the multi-functional kiosks of today.

ATMs: Where it all began

In 1967, the world witnessed the birth of the first-ever ATM. Installed by Barclays Bank in London, this machine enabled customers to withdraw cash without the need for a bank teller. It was a groundbreaking technology that soon spread worldwide. During the 1970s, banks, especially in the United States, invested heavily in ATMs, making them a common sight on street corners. These machines provided convenience and accessibility to customers, reducing the dependence on traditional bank transactions.

ATMs diversify their functionalities

While cash withdrawal remained the primary function of ATMs, banks started introducing additional features to expand their usefulness. By the 1980s, customers were able to deposit cash, transfer funds, and check their account balances through ATMs. This diversification of services increased the convenience of self-service banking, further cementing the popularity of ATMs.

The rise of information kiosks

As the 1990s rolled in, self-service technology extended beyond banking. Information kiosks emerged as a means to provide customers with quick access to information, without the need for human assistance. Travelers could check flight schedules and book tickets, shoppers could browse catalogs, and tourists could get maps and information about local attractions. Information kiosks became a common sight in airports, shopping malls, and tourist hotspots, enhancing customer convenience.

Self-checkout kiosks: Empowering shoppers

The retail industry witnessed a major transformation with the introduction of self-checkout kiosks. These kiosks enabled shoppers to scan, bag, and pay for their purchases without having to wait in long queues. Initially met with skepticism, self-checkout kiosks gained popularity due to their speed and efficiency. Retailers quickly realized the benefits of reduced labor costs and increased checkout capacity, prompting widespread adoption of self-checkout systems.

The integration of touchscreens and multimedia

With advancements in technology, self-service kiosks evolved further with the integration of touchscreens and multimedia elements. Touchscreens allowed users to interact intuitively with the kiosks, while multimedia elements like videos and animations enhanced the user experience. These advancements opened up new possibilities, such as interactive product catalogs, self-service ticketing, and advanced informational systems.

Kiosks in healthcare: Revolutionizing patient experience

In recent years, self-service kiosks have found their way into the healthcare sector, transforming the patient experience. Patients can now use kiosks to check-in for appointments, update their personal information, and even make payments, reducing the administrative burden on healthcare staff. These kiosks also provide access to educational resources, empowering patients with valuable health information. With the integration of electronic medical records, kiosks have made medical processes more efficient and patient-centric.

The impact on customer service and workforce

The evolving self-service technology landscape has had a profound impact on customer service and the workforce. While convenience and speed have improved, some argue that the human touch is being lost in the process. Automated systems, despite their efficiency, may lack the personalization and empathy that human interaction offers. Additionally, the shift towards self-service technologies has raised concerns about job displacement within certain sectors. However, proponents argue that these technologies allow human employees to focus on more complex and value-added tasks.

The future of self-service: Artificial Intelligence and beyond

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to advance, we can expect self-service technology to become even smarter and more personalized. AI-powered kiosks will be able to better understand and anticipate customer needs, providing tailored recommendations and assistance. Voice recognition and natural language processing will enhance the user experience, making self-service technology more intuitive and accessible than ever before.


From the humble beginnings of ATMs to the sophisticated kiosks of today, self-service technology has come a long way. ATMs revolutionized the banking industry, while kiosks expanded into various sectors, providing information, convenience, and efficiency to customers. With advancements in technology, these self-service systems continue to evolve, shaping the way we interact with services. While challenges and concerns exist, the future holds great promise as Artificial Intelligence propels self-service technology towards unprecedented heights.


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