Three banks study the pooling of their ATMs

Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Mutuel are planning to pool their cash dispensers. The aim of these three banks is to adapt to the decline in cash payments. An initial study will be conducted until the end of the year, with a view to pooling ATMs from the end of 2023.

Shared ATMs: a partnership under study

Société Générale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Mutuel own almost a third of the ATMs in France, i.e. 15,000 out of the 48,000 still in service.

The three banks have announced that they are " studying a project for pool ing" these ATMs, with the aim of " guaranteeing, together and on a long-term basis, the best possible access to self-service banking and strengthening the range of services for their customers ".

In concrete terms, customers of these 3 banks will be able to use these shared ATMs to deposit cheques, make cash deposits and withdrawals, print out RIBs and consult their accounts free of charge.

For these 3 brands, the challenge is to adapt to the habits of the French, who are increasingly abandoning cash in favor of other means of payment, notably bankcards. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, encouraging contactless payments, which increased by 53% in 2020.

According to a European Central Bank survey published at the end of 2020, 39% of bankcard transactions are contactless payments. Overall, 35% of transactions in France are made by bankcard, compared with 59% in cash. Cash withdrawals fell by 23% in 2020, according to the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires.

The French turn away from ATM cash

And while cash withdrawals are down sharply, ATM management costs are on the rise, as ATMs are becoming less and less profitable. Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and Crédit Mutuel are indeed planning to close a number of ATMs as a result of this joint venture, although they will not be disclosing any figures.

Currently, according to Banque de France data, almost the entire French population - 99% to be precise - can access an ATM in less than 15 minutes by car. Anticipating fears about access to ATMs in rural areas, the 3 brands have pledged to " secure the installation of ATMs in rural areas".

The number of cash dispensers operating in France has been falling for several years. According to a Banque de France report, there were 52,451 at the end of 2018, 50,316 a year later, and 48,710 in 2020.

Other European banks have chosen to pool their ATMs. This is particularly the case in Belgium, where 4 banks have pooled their ATMs: BNP Paribas-Fortis, ING, Belfius and KBC have created the Batopin company, and together operate three quarters of Belgium's ATMs, i.e. 5,800 ATMs.

In France, the ATM networks of BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Mutuel are distributed differently across the country, which naturally leads to a certain degree of complementarity. Indeed, while Crédit Mutuel's 6,000 ATMs tend to be located far from urban centers, Société Générale's 5,000 ATMs and BNP Paribas' 4,000 machines are more often found in city centers.

Other chains could join the first 3. A study will be carried out until the end of the year; if the project comes to fruition, the first shared vending machines should be in service by the end of 2023.