ATMs disappearing, bank branches closing as online banking takes over

Mar 05, 2022
The 'Daily Mail' reveals that 80 per cent of Australians now prefer to manage their banking online. Source: Getty

New data has revealed the number of ATMs and in-store banks are decreasing rapidly as Australian society makes the steady switch to predominantly online transactions.

According to the Daily Mail, new data has revealed that since 2020, almost 460 bank branches and approximately 3800 ATM machines had been shut down across Australia.

NSW alone is short 140 in-store banks and almost 300 suburbs are without access to a single ATM, with Victoria also having closed its doors to almost 120 bank branches.

According to a statement from Finance Sector Union National Secretary, Julia Angrisano, the massive number of bank branch and ATM closures has inflicted serious damage on local communities.

“Closures have a devastating impact on local communities,” said Angrisano.

“Jobs are lost, business is impacted, and another local service disappears.”

The Daily Mail reveals that 80 per cent of Australians now prefer to manage their banking online, leaving the unresolved 20 per cent without an easily-accessible option to withdraw cash.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia alone has shut down 259 bank branches, dropping from 1134 in February 2020, to today’s number at just 875. The company has also shut down more than 2100 ATMs since 2019, leaving just over 2000 left nationwide.

At the end of 2016, the number of active ATMs globally peaked at 32,879.

In 2019, the number of ATM’s in Australia had decreased, in the year to September, by a substantial six per cent.

The decline in ATMs is largely contributed to the banking industry’s 2017 decision to remove fees for customers who used a different bank to their own. The initiative was led by CBA and according to an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald, “the change wiped out tens of millions of dollars in revenue” and meant customers had “a far wider choice of machines if they needed cash” which greatly intensified “the financial pressures on banks to remove machines.”

The same article published by the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the average number of cash withdrawals from ATMs had decreased by half, having reached their peak in the early 2000s.

In 2019, a spokesperson for Westpac revealed that cash withdrawals from its ATMs had decreased by 8.6 per cent in the last year despite being the second largest bank of the ‘Big 4’.

Executive general manager for retail at NAB, Krissie Jones, described the changing economy and how it provides greater options for customers.

“The way Australians are using and accessing their cash is changing fast,” she said.

“We’re seeing more and more of our customers choosing to use cards instead of cash and with most major banks removing fees for anyone that uses their ATM, our customers have more options than ever before to access their money fee-free at thousands of ATMs around Australia.”

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