Three banks pool their ATMs and cheque processing

BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel and Société Générale have decided to extend their mutualization project to include cheques, in order to make savings on their traditional means of payment, which include cash. By 2023, these three banks together will represent 15,000 cash dispensers in France.

Enhanced" access to bank services

BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel and Société Générale are preparing to share their ATMs.

" The project to pool cash access resources (...) will begin its operational phase early next year," said Thierry Laborde, Chief Operating Officer of BNP Paribas.

By 2023, the three networks combined will account for almost 15,000 of France's 48,000 ATMs.

"It's not a local project," says Thierry Laborde, "it's the project of three banking groups that account for roughly 40% of the ATM access offer.

This pooling should enable customers to benefit from " enhanced " access to the services offered by banks, including cash deposits and withdrawals, cheque deposits, account consultation and RIB printing.

The check industry is also concerned

The three banks' mutualization project also concerns the cheque channel, whereas until now only a few initiatives have been carried out within certain banking groups, notably Crédit Agricole and LCL.

Although few details were provided on the mutualization of check processing, " as with cash, management infrastructures are very costly. As volumes fall, the cost of processing each cheque mechanically increases ", explains Pierre Lahbabi, head of Galitt.

Coping with declining profitability

By pooling their ATM networks, banks are also trying to find a solution to their declining profitability. ATMs generate significant costs (maintenance, supplies, rental of premises, etc.) representing between 25,000 and 32,000 euros. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, most French people have sharply reduced their cash payments or stopped using them altogether. A number of players have decided to support this move away from cash, by proposing, for example, an increase in the ceiling for contactless payments.

Finally, ATMs are earning less and less for banks. The Banque de France counted 47,853 at the end of 2021, 10% fewer than in 2018.

No ATM closures in rural and remote areas

Should we be concerned to see the ATM network shrink even further, given that 5,000 machines have disappeared in the last 3 years? On the occasion of the creation of the Comité national des moyens de paiement (CNMP) in Paris, CNMP co-chairman Erick Lacourrège assured us that the Banque de France would welcome the subject " with interest and a benevolent eye ", provided that it did not result in " a reduction in the population's access to ATMs ". As a result, no ATMs should be closed in rural and isolated areas.

Despite the guarantees imposed on the banks, the plan to pool ATMs remains unclear on a number of points. For example, the question of how these ATMs should look has not yet been addressed.