Banks work together to explore development of joint atm network

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Woman at ATM

ABN AMRO Bank, ING, Rabobank and Geldservice Nederland (GSN) announce their collaboration to explore a potential initiative intended to ensure the ongoing availability of ATMs in the Netherlands. These exploratory discussions are being conducted in close consultation with De Nederlandsche Bank and draw upon successful initiatives in Sweden and Finland.

  • Cash must remain readily available to the public, even in times of declining usage of cash and increasing criminal activity targeting ATMs 
  • The intention is to maintain and improve ATM availability by transferring to GSN the ownership and operational processes of ATMs
  • The goal of the future set up would be that the highest standards of safety, ease of use and service become the norm. 
  • For now, nothing will change for customers. 
  • The initiative is supported by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Dutch central bank, financial sector supervisor and resolution authority

Potential for participating banks’ ATMs to be operated by GSN

The participating banks have always been taking responsibility for reliable cash services in the Netherlands and they have committed themselves to ensure this for the future. GSN was set up in 2011 as a joint venture between ABN AMRO Bank, ING and Rabobank to provide logistical services such as cash collection, counting and distribution. From this existing partnership, the intention is to transfer the ownership and operation of ATMs of the participating banks to GSN.

Cash transactions in decline, but customers still require access to cash through a full ATM network

Recent years have seen a decline in the use of cash as a payment method. In 2015, the number of consumer cashless (PIN/debit card) transactions outnumbered cash payments for the first time. This trend is expected to continue, buoyed by digital innovations such as contactless cards and mobile phone payment systems. Digital transactions will become the norm. Even so, market research suggests that the majority of consumers wish to retain the option of paying in cash. This underlines the importance of ready availability of banknotes, even as ATMs also face the threat of increased criminal activity.

Ensuring the availability of cash

This initiative would ensure that banknotes can remain readily available to consumers in a safe, secure and affordable manner. The plans will be subject to scrutiny by the relevant societal institutions and regulatory authorities, such as the The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). 

  • Due to decline in the use of cash and increased criminal activity, banks are now individually removing ATMs in vulnerable locations. If this trend continues, it may compromise the accessibility and availability of cash. 
  • This potential co-operation enables GSN and participating banks to review how we can guarantee an optimised and safer network with less ATMs, whilst safeguarding availability and prioritising what matters to our customers: the ability to access cash. 
  • This could be achieved by jointly investing in security, removing ATMs in places where there is a surplus and placing new machines in locations where there is a shortage. 
  • As of 2016 the national coverage of the ATM network was 99.67%. Through cooperation and optimisation of the network, this initiative would aim to maintain, and possibly increase, this high level of coverage.

Options are under review

Participating banks are in close discussion with stakeholders to explore and define options for the future set up of the ATM network in the Netherlands. Their focus is to find a way forward which provides security and ease of use to the end user. 

  • One possibility being explored is to develop a dedicated brand for ATMs in the Netherlands, as in Sweden. The goal of the new ATM network would be that the highest standards of safety, ease of use and service become the norm. 
  • The consumer could benefit in several ways from this initiative. In addition to safe and secure access to basic services, consumers would, for example, be able to use the closest ATM within the new network, regardless of which bank used to operate that ATM. In addition, all new ATMs could provide similar services for clients of every bank, like access to their bank balance and providing the same cash withdrawal limitations for every client. 
  • This approach could potentially make it easier for shopkeepers and entrepreneurs to deposit cash at specially equipped ATMs, because they will be able to use any deposit machine within the network, rather than only their own banks’ deposit machines. 
  • A greater focus on security by investment in new technologies and security systems might also be possible with this new proposed approach.

For now, no immediate changes will be made to the banks' services via ATMs. Under the current schedule, a partnership agreement will be signed during the third quarter of 2017. The way in which other banks are to be involved in the initiative is now under examination.

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