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I recently went to Japan (specifically Osaka and a few other places around Kansai) for the first time in my life, and had an amazing time. One of the many cultural differences I noticed was that Japanese ATMs were rather different to those in other parts of Asia, North America, or in Europe.

In particular, every one I encountered presented money towards the user displayed "in full", usually up from the ground, as if it were a pile of cash resting on a table. Every other ATM I've ever used shoves out a (probably) thin wadge of notes, with the edge of the wadge presented towards the user, and the face of the notes hidden until the user removes them.

Why? Given the extra engineering effort in making machines like this, and the vast amount of cultural background to money in Japan, I'd be surprised if it's sheer chance.

Here's an attempt at illustrating what I'm on about:

Japanese ATM -- Yen come out of a grey slot, presented face-up towards the user, not held on any side:

Japanese ATM

[e.g.] US ATM -- Money comes out in a thin wadge held by rollers:

US ATM

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    There are plenty of ATMs in the US that dispense cash onto a tray, from which you pick it up. The down side of this design is that, rarely, a bill will go flying. Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 21:02
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about travelling.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 23:52
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    @peter Not necessarily. And by that logic, any question about any country would be on-topic.
    – fkraiem
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 0:16
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    In short, because that is the way that 三井銀行 designed them in 1969. There isn't any "extra engineering" nor does it stigmatise money in any way (except helping to hide the amount). Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 0:17
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    Sorry, I'm agreeing. It's an interesting fact, but it's not a travel problem/question. Next we could ask why Japan has tons of bullet trains, but that's a cultural/societal question about population density, not travel.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 1:00

1 Answer 1

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Qualifier: I live in Japan and have used those ATMs thousands of times.

ATMs at banks here (usually not the ones at convenience stores) accept cash deposits. And by cash I don't mean you put the money in an envelope and tell the machine how much is there, I mean you put the money into the tray and the machine counts it and tells YOU how much is there.

Yes, it is possible for customer B to receive exactly the same banknote that customer A deposited 5 minutes previously.

The same mechanism is used for deposits and withdrawals, so the reason for the large bin should now be obvious - it is designed around the need to accept paper money, not just dispense it.

The machines accept (and dispense) coin as well. That's what the smaller bin on the left side is for. They only accept up to about 200 coins at a time so emptying the change bin isn't as convenient as it sounds, but it's way easier than rolling.

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    Qualifier: So do I and this is not the reason at all. In Australia, ATMs accept deposits and they only have the note feed slot similar to ticket machines at train stations here in Japan. The Australian ATMs also accept coins into / from a small bin. So from a design point of view, it isn't as "obvious" as you make out. In actuality the probable reason for the large note bin, was that initial ATMs dispensed 10 x 1000円 notes at a time as there was no functionality for 10 000円 notes and the design has carried through. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 0:20
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    In order for this to actually answer the question, you need to explain why the tray is necessary; no, it's not "obvious".
    – fkraiem
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 0:24
  • I think it is just a different design of machines, with no reason behind it. Just like there are several different designs on other machines.
    – Willeke
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 18:46
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    There are ATMs that accept deposits in Germany, too; those that I’ve encountered (they are relatively rare) still give out money edge first. So I concur with @The Wandering Coder – this is not the reason for the different orientation.
    – chirlu
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 19:11

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