Dutch banks bid to manage falling cash use through joint ATM network

Dutch banks bid to manage falling cash use through joint ATM network

ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank are investigating the creation of a joint ATM network as they seek to adjust to a world where cash use is declining but customer still demand easy access to paper money.

In 2015, the number of consumer cashless transactions in the Netherlands outnumbered cash payments for the first time. And, with mobile and contactless payments gaining traction, the trend away from cash is set to continue. Yet market research shows that the Dutch still want the option to use physical money.

As of last year, national coverage of the ATM network in the Netherlands was 99.67% but, citing criminal activity as well as falling cash use, the banks have begun removing machines in some "vulnerable" areas.

To keep coverage high, the banks are looking into the creation of a joint network that would be owned and run by Geldservice Nederland (GSN), a cash logistics JV they set up in 2011.

The plan, backed by the Dutch central bank, would help create an "optimised and safer" network with fewer ATMs, say the partners. By following the Swedish model of having a dedicated brand for cash machines, customers would be able to use the closest ATM within the new network, regardless of which bank used to operate it.

In addition, all new ATMs could provide similar services for clients of every bank, like access to their balance and the same cash withdrawal limitations. Similarly, businesses could deposit cash at any specially equipped machines in the network.

The banks stress that no immediate changes will be made to their services but that a partnership agreement is slated to be agreed by the third quarter.

The Dutch predicament is mirrored in other markets, including Switzerland where the nation's banks have moved to create a common ATM standard, and in the UK where the Link ATM network is rethinking its business model as banks seek to reduce the costs incurred by providing free ATM withdrawals across the national network of 70,000 cash machines.

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