Three banks have begun mapping their respective cash dispenser fleets, in order to determine which ones need to be replaced and which ones need to be scrapped. More and more meetings are being held to frame this meticulous project.
Three networks operate a third of France's installed base
In October 2021, BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel Alliance Fédérale and Société Générale announced their intention to pool their ATMs. The three networks account for almost a third of all ATMs in France, i.e. 15,000 machines out of a total of 48,000.
This decision is designed to keep pace with the decline in the use of cash, which has accelerated with the health crisis and the widespread use of contactless payment. In 2020, cash withdrawals fell by 23%, according to the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires. By pooling their ATMs, banks are also aiming to optimize the cost of managing cash dispensers, which are used less and less.
Mapping work in progress
As part of their ongoing project, BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel and Société Générale have begun the mapping process. This involves choosing which machines to maintain in each commune and neighborhood. While the decision may seem straightforward in the case of duplication, there are a number of factors to be taken into account in the field (presence of a main road, physical obstacles, etc.). Banks also base their decisions on the condition of the park. Logically, they prefer the most modern ATMs, and those with the capacity to process and receive cheques.
At this stage, the three banking networks have not yet revealed how many cash dispensers will be phased out. However, several thousand are expected to disappear over the next few years.
Implementation scheduled for 2023
The ATM pooling project will not be implemented before 2023, the time it will take for the banks to strike a balance between the savings they wish to make and their presence across the country.
When it comes to access to cash, the authorities are particularly vigilant.
In its latest study, published at the end of 2021, the Banque de France pointed out that " 99% of the population lives either in a commune equipped with at least one ATM, or in a commune less than fifteen minutes' drive from the nearest equipped commune ".
This level must not be called into question. On this point, BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel and Société Générale have pledged to pay " particular attention to securing locations in rural and isolated areas ".
While this type of alliance is unheard of in France, it already exists in Belgium, where Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING and KBC have created the Batopin company to jointly operate almost 6,000 ATMs. The consortium, which manages 73% of Belgium's ATMs, plans to reduce the number of terminals from 5,800 to 2,400, an initiative that is causing concern.