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THEY are, in the view of Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, the only useful financial innovation of recent decades. Better yet, cashpoints (ATMs, to Americans) are still evolving. This week Citibank unveiled one that can identify account-holders by scanning their irises, thus doing away with codes—and with cards, for that matter. Customers request funds via their phones before confirming their identity with a scan.

Nearly half a century since the cashpoint came into service, its origin is still disputed. Barclays, a British bank, often gets the credit for installing the first one, at its Enfield branch in 1967. Its future is just as uncertain: those who think plastic and, increasingly, mobile phones are displacing cash one transaction at a time see little need for either paper money or the machines that dispense it.

In fact, cashpoints are still multiplying. Nearly 200,000 were installed in 2014, taking the global total to over 3m, says RBRLondon, a British consultancy. Much of the rise is in emerging markets; Europe and America are barely growing. Diebold and NCR, both...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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