The important role of cash recycling machines and ATMs are often overlooked by businesses and customers.

But without them, the time and operational costs of cash would be overwhelming for businesses. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words remain true to this day:

“Money often costs too much.”

And for many customers, depositing and withdrawing cash would be impossible without them.

Let’s take a closer look at cash recycling machines and ATMs, and their key differences.

What are cash recycling machines?

Cash recycling machines are machines for automating cash handling in financial institutions or businesses.

They recycle cash for future transactions. This means they take a cash deposit and re-dispense it. In order to do this, they also perform the following tasks with the deposited cash:

  • Validate
  • Count
  • Sort
  • Store

Cash recycling minimizes the need for cash replenishment, saving time and effort on cash-in-transit processes. It also reduces human error in counting, validating, and managing the cash deposited.

Cash recyclers typically come with advanced security features to safeguard against counterfeit notes.

What are ATMs?

An automated teller machine (ATM) (sometimes known as automated cash machine) is a secure electronic machine that enables certain banking functions, including:

  • Cash withdrawals
  • Account inquiries
  • Fund transfers (in some cases)
  • Cash deposits (in some cases)

They are accessed with bank cards and PIN codes, and are mostly used as a cash dispenser for currency notes of the home nation.

Cardholders do not usually need a bank account with a specific ATM provider to withdraw money from it. ATMs usually provide services for accounts across the banking industry.

They are often available to access 24/7. However, in some cases they are located inside buildings, so are only available during set hours. They can be hard to find in rural areas.
As of June 2023, the total amount of ATMs in the UK alone was 49,421, which is 9.1 ATMs per 10,000 people.

What is a cash recycling ATM?

Cash recycling ATMs are a type of cash recycling machine equipped for dispensing cash. Like regular ATMs, this cash is accessed via a credit or debit card with a PIN.

However, if you want to deposit cash through a cash recycler machine, you must be a customer of the specific bank that operates that cash recycling machine.

Cash recycling machine vs ATM: The differences

1. Purpose and beneficiaries

Cash recyclers work to streamline internal cash management processes for businesses and financial institutions, i.e., bank employees or finance department employees. ATMs, on the other hand, provide self-service banking options for bank account holders.

2. Functionality

Cash recyclers’ functions are all related to storing and recycling cash. These involve automating cash handling processes within a closed system.

ATMs offer a wider range of functionalities aimed at serving banking customers. These include cash withdrawal, balance inquiries and – in some cases – fund transfers and cash deposits.

3. User interaction

Direct user interaction with cash recyclers is often limited to trained personnel within retail or financial organizations. In contrast, hundreds of even thousands of bank customers will interact with ATMs each month.

4. Location

Cash recycling machines are usually located in urban areas where businesses or institutions need to deposit cash.

This often means financial institutions, such as banks and building societies. But it can also include anywhere where large amounts of cash are handled, such as retail stores, supermarkets, casinos, hotels, etc.

ATMs, on the other hand, typically provide convenient and secure access to essential banking services in public spaces. This includes bank branches, retail stores, gas stations, airports, malls, etc.

PayComplete’s cash recyclers

PayComplete’s recyclers optimise working capital by analysing historical data to ensure an ideal mix of bills and coins, reducing cash management complexity and costs.

We also offer a broader comprehensive cash management solution., including hardware devices, software, and services.


Cash recycling machines and ATMs play indispensable roles in automating cash handling. The former are for use by financial institutions and businesses, whilst the latter are primarily for bank customers.

Cash recyclers optimise internal processes and enhance efficiency and security of cash handling. ATMs make banking services available to the public, most commonly to withdraw money.

Their differences in purpose, functionality, user interaction and location highlight the distinct roles they play in the world of cash. However, they also have some similarities, not least in the essential roles they play in circulating money.