Ever wondered why ATM PINs have 4 digit code?

Imagine if you had to remember an 8-digit code for all your ATM cards!

Demonetisation has given a boost to the digital economy in India. E-commerce websites are flourishing and even the small merchants are shifting to cashless transactions. People are increasingly using their debit and credit cards for making payments. From purchasing stuff online to purchasing groceries in the shop next door, debit cards- or as we like to call them ‘magic cards’- are being swiped everywhere.

The increased availability of ATM machines and ease of performing transactions has proved to be an aid in this regard, which in turn has simplified the lives of people by removing the restrictions involving the operational time of banks. And the key to this revolution has been ATM cards or as they’re popularly called debit cards. Yes, we’re talking about that small card that we all so conveniently hold in our pockets!

But have you ever wondered why does an ATM card have only four digits as its PIN?

Granted that an ATM PIN is one of the most important numbers that we use and it holds the key to all our dispensable cash. Have you ever thought why doesn’t an ATM PIN have at least 8 characters like it’s recommended in our online accounts?

Well, there’s a story behind it and it’s a story you wanna know! So, here it goes…

Once upon a time there was a Scottish inventor called John Adrian Shepherd-Barron. Born to Dorothy Barron (Wimbledon Ladies Double Champion) in Shillong, the Barron invented the ATM machine. While testing his invention, Barron had suggested having a 6-digit PIN. However, when he presented his idea to his wife Caroline, who by the way was the first person to use his invention, she rejected it.


Coz she could remember only 4-digits and 6-digits were too long for her to recall. This is how 4-digit PINs became a world standard. Though many banks use 6-digit PIN, a 4-digit PIN continues to remain popular.

So, next time we punch in our ATM PIN, we know who to thank for it!