Travelling abroad as little as 25 years ago used to be a major logistical exercise when it came to arranging how to pay for items or obtaining cash while on your travels.
Everything had to be planned well in advance and involved quite a complicated procedure. Ordering local currency many days or even weeks in advance, along with a book of travellers’ cheques was a prerequisite before stepping on the plane or boat. Furthermore, it required a trip to the local travel agency, bank or even both in order to get the right combination of cash and cheques.
Credit cards were only just starting to make a widespread impact in the early 1980s but if used abroad it usually took a number of weeks for the transactions to appear on the user’s credit card statement. Many savvy travellers at the time used credit cards to pay for as much as they could abroad and end up paying for it some two months later. But, the combination of credit card holder and frequent traveller was still a novel concept at the time.
However, today it is very easy for travellers abroad to simply insert their home bank cash card into the majority of the world’s ATMs, as they are invariably connected to an Interbank network such as LINK, CIRRUS, PLUS or PULSE. The connections between the banks’ machines allow the ATM to dispense cash in local currency, whilst debiting the card holder’s account in their home currency.
Online ATMs have been operating since the early 1970s in both the UK and the USA. However, at that time only users with accounts at that particular bank could withdraw funds from their branch ATMs.
Indeed, it wasn’t until closed encrypted networking reached an advanced stage in the 1990s that differing bank networks were able to verify a non-account holder’s details and balance. Since that innovation, international banks have co-operated using the Interbank networks to provide ATM services to the majority of their customers throughout the world; there are now an estimated 1.5 million ATMs operating globally that accept foreign bank cards.
The communication technology used in the ATM networks has also been extended to point-of-sale (POS) technology, allowing holders of foreign debit and credit cards to have their accounts debited the day they use their card, even if it’s done on the opposite side of the world.
Whether withdrawing cash or paying for goods or services abroad, it is certainly so much easier and far more convenient than only a generation ago!
Victoria Cochrane writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.