When I use an ATM, as soon as I have my card and cash I'm walking away. I don't hang around to read any "thank you" screen after the transaction is complete.

When using an ATM immediately after someone else in the queue, I'm often frustrated by having to wait for up to 10 seconds while the machine continues to display such a "thank you" screen, during which time I can't insert my card to start a new transaction and the user the sceen is intended for is already halfway down the street.

Does anyone (industry insiders?) know a good reason for this? If it's just a way of thanking the previous customer, why can't I insert my card until it has finished displaying? Is it actually just something to look at whilst the machine is busy doing something, like a splash screen?

Surely the banks/manufacturers have figured out that it will rarely be seen by the intended user, because as far as they're concerned the transaction is complete as soon as they have their cash/receipt/card etc.

I only have experience of UK cash machines, other countries may be different.

  • I often run into the very same problem in The Netherlands, so it is not a UK-unique issue.
    – André
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 11:41
  • Same here in germany Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 11:46
  • I see similar situations in Sweden, 10 seconds is pushing it though. Maybe 5, and the next user (me) sees the message for ~3 seconds. Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 11:47
  • Weird. I'd make it show the thank you screen but allow you to insert your card, personally. The last transcation's over.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 11:51
  • 1
    My guess (hence only a comment) is it's a sort of "reverse splash screen"... A splash screen is shown while an application is starting and initialising itself. With an ATM, I strongly suspect there are post-deliver-the-cash activities that must be completed before it is ready to serve the next customer, and it is showing a message while that is happening. It could be (and I think I've seen some that do/did) a simple "Please wait..."; presumably some have chosen to leave the last customer's "Thank you" on screen. Some, Barclays is one I regularly use, show an info/advert video.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


My thought:

Imagine an older person that is a bit slow. He takes 5-7 seconds to get his money and card down his wallet. A screen like that might make a person like that feel more comfortable with sorting his things in his time then if the machine was ready to use.

  • 6
    As a person who often seems to find himself to be the one next in line behind that person you're describing, I think that that is actually the unfriendly thing to do. I'd like that person in front of me to get a move on, not to get comfortable sorting his things while I and the people behind me are waiting, but perhaps that's just my own twisted view on the world :-)
    – André
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 12:01
  • 1
    I somewhat agree with @André. The banks are so interested in making every part of their organization as efficient as possible so why would they all of the sudden start encourage people to hang around the cash machine after completing a withdrawal and thereby hindering other customers who are waiting in line. Not buying it. Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 12:13
  • 1
    Think about this - when the message shows and he takes his time you're annoyed with him. When the message doesn't show and he feels the need to get the hell out of there he feel pressured by the machine and the bank is guilty by association. They're transferring the hate! Conspiracy!
    – TJH
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 12:15
  • 1
    @MarjanVenema: That would include making ATMs work efficiently. Now, you often have two or more. If people can operate an ATM faster, less machines are needed to serve the same number of customers, thus saving the bank money.
    – André
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 12:24
  • 1
    @André: not quite. That argument only holds for very busy sites where a lot of customers want to get money at the same time. The number of ATM's is actually dictated far more by enough "coverage" around a country or city. Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 12:26

To what I know the reasoning behind this 8-10 second delay is not because of banks are concerned about a older or physically impaired person being able to take his money and step away but it has more to do with the retention of the card information after it has been swiped.

A lot of ATM's earlier used to take in your card during transactions and spit it out only after you have finished all your transactions. Apparently the ATM retains the identification information in the card's magnetic strip for 8-10 seconds after the card is taken out. This was actually found out only after a big scam in India some years back where a person robbed several hundreds of thousands of rupees from people's ATM accounts by quickly trying to make a withdrawal after the person had left the ATM.

To prevent that from happening, I gather the ATM displays a kind of splash or freeze screen for about 8-10 seconds until the authentication details of the last transaction are purged.

So it seems to be a case of security overriding UX

Please note: This is what I gathered based upon my recollection of that scam,but I'll try to get some additional details.

  • 3
    The vast majority of UK ATMs read the card's chip (as in 'Chip & PIN') and the magstripe is now merely a fallback. Some banks may have even disabled the fallback so the transaction is declined if the chip is unreadable.
    – Widor
    Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 16:04

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