The Impact of Customers Ditching Cash

Last year, major banks removed hundreds of ATMs, due to the scrapping of withdrawal fees and consumers further reducing their use of cash.

Each of the big four banks confirmed its ATM fleet is shrinking, and industry-wide figures from the Australian Payments Network show that in the year to September, the total number of ATMs around the country fell by almost 2000, or 6 per cent, to 30,219.

The slide follows the the banking industry’s late 2017 decision, led by Commonwealth Bank, to remove pesky fees charged when customers used a bank that was not their own.

That change wiped out tens of millions of dollars in revenue, and also meant customers have a far wider choice of machines if they need cash, intensifying the financial pressures on banks to remove machines.

The end of ATM fees also kicked off industry discussions about sharing ATMs by forming an ATM “utility” business, which would allow more closures – though sources said those talks have so far failed to reach a deal.

ANZ, National Australia Bank, and Westpac all acknowledged the decline in cash withdrawals, while pointing out they still had customers who continued to take out cash.

NAB slashed its ATM numbers by 26 per cent in the year to January, from 1249 to to 923.

Westpac’s cash withdrawals from its ATMs were down 8.6 per cent in the last year, and it had closed 374 ATMs in the bank’s financial year, which ends in September.

ANZ Bank said its number of ATMs had fallen by 78 in the year to December, to 2322 – a 3 per cent decline.

CBA, which has the largest ATM fleet of 3420, removed 10 machines in the year to September. It will provide updated figures when it unveils its half-year profits early next month.

The average number of cash withdrawals per machine is at its lowest level since the early 2000s.

“The way Australians are using and accessing their cash is changing fast,” said Krissie Jones, NAB’s executive general manager for retail.

Topics: Industry News – Finance