Zu At the beginning of the Corona crisis, many people in Germany also went to the ATM to stock up on cash as a precaution. In the meantime, however, this has been reversed – and many ATMs are struggling with a lack of visitors. Some are even temporarily shut down and even dismantled, as Kersten Trojanus says, the managing director of the ATM operator IC Cash and spokesman for the ATMs working group, which represents ATM operators outside the commercial banks. Trojanus speaks of a “collapse in the demand for cash at the ATMs”.
A decrease in the number of withdrawals could already be observed during the first shutdown – now in the second shutdown it is similar again. “The demand for cash at ATMs of the ATMs is currently only around 30 percent of the normal state.” The representative of the association went on to say that he considered the declining demand for cash to be a temporary phenomenon: “That should happen again after the Corona crisis normalize – at least almost to the old state. “
There is currently less demand for cash, especially in tourist locations such as main train stations, airports or the Berlin Wall – you can feel the absence of tourists who are always very “cash-savvy”. “In some city centers, too, the demand for cash is falling sharply because hardly anyone goes to the shops to shop and more people than usual order a lot on the Internet.”
Some devices have already been shut down
Some providers of ATMs have already shut down or even dismantled devices, his company IC Cash, for example, with 20 or 30 machines. “This is especially the case where the rents for the ATM locations are high,” said Trojanus. The number of ATMs that are now still in operation is therefore slightly lower than before the pandemic. Overall, the third-party providers in Germany, i.e. the non-commercial banks, have a good 5000 ATMs, around 10 percent of all devices.
The banks and savings banks have now reduced the number of their devices in Germany for the first time since the invention of the ATM, to a good 51,000, said Trojanus, mainly through branch closings. This dismantling of bank ATMs will continue. At attractive locations, this is sometimes also an opportunity for third-party providers: “Of course there are also small places where ATMs are not worthwhile – sometimes we negotiate support there with the community.”
The few ATMs in the grocery store, on the other hand, were doing unusually well. And that although many supermarkets advised paying by card, said Trojanus. Apparently, some supermarkets have reduced the amount of cash paid out at the checkout – and some customers apparently prefer “fresh banknotes” from the ATM rather than the notes from the supermarket checkout. While many banks withdraw money for their own customers free of charge, the third-party providers charge fees for withdrawals, on average 3.95 to 4.95 euros per withdrawal process, as Trojanus explained. This is similar to that of many ATMs for customers of other banks: “But there are also individual ATMs at busy and expensive locations where the fees are higher.”
Will it be the same as before?
The trade is partly trying to push back cash on the grounds of the corona pandemic, believes the association representative: “However, sometimes I ask myself whether it is really healthier to use the pin pad at the cash register for the PIN – to type that was previously used by many people to use as cash. “
He believes that after the pandemic, people would use more cash again – though maybe not quite as much as they used to. The digital euro, with which the European Central Bank is currently experimenting, will not displace cash anytime soon, says Trojanus. It will certainly take another four to five years for the ECB to be ready: “We are not China, everything can be done faster with a decision from above.” Until the digital euro has taken significant market share from cash, it will certainly be eight more take up to ten years, says Trojanus: “In my opinion, cash will not disappear entirely, even if its use in daily payment transactions will continue to decline.”