Demand for cash from ATMs in Asia Pacific is growing dramatically as the banked population expands
The value of cash withdrawn from ATMs in eleven major Asia-Pacific markets has soared by 50% since 2011, according to ATM Hardware, Software and Services 2016, a report from RBR, the specialist ATM research and consulting firm.
In 2015 alone, the value of cash withdrawals grew by more than 15% in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and India. Many of the region’s economies are cash-intensive, and financial inclusion programmes are bringing large numbers of previously “unbanked” people into the banking system, adding to demand.
Value of cash withdrawals up in parts of Europe, down in others
RBR’s study also covers 20 European markets, where the value of ATM withdrawals has grown by 8% since 2011. Europe has greater uptake of cashless payments than Asia, and consequently the increase in the value of cash withdrawals has been more modest. While 2015 saw strong growth in the value of withdrawals in countries such as Russia and Turkey (in part due to inflation), and Spain (due to economic uncertainty), in many parts of Europe the value of cash withdrawals actually fell.
Indian ATMs the most heavily used in Asia
The number of customer visits to ATMs – measured by the number of cash withdrawals – is also rising sharply in much of Asia-Pacific. The fastest growth rates are in the Indian sub-continent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), where there are still low numbers of ATMs compared to the population, and Indonesia, where density is higher, but where a higher percentage of the population can access ATMs.
RBR’s research found that, in 2015, an average of 5,000 withdrawals per month were made from each Indian ATM – more than in any other Asia-Pacific country surveyed. This pressure on the country’s ATM infrastructure has led the government to encourage new companies into the ATM sector, to boost the number of machines. Other markets with high transaction volumes are the Philippines and Malaysia, where ATMs are used more than 4,500 times a month on average.
Economic difficulties result in strong demand for cash
The study shows that in Europe, it is the smaller markets such as Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Greece where the average numbers of withdrawals per ATM are highest – these countries tend to have fewer ATMs relative to population than larger ones such as Germany and the UK, so the machines are more frequently used.
In most European countries, the average number of ATM withdrawals has been flat or falling over the last five years. Three major exceptions are Greece, Ukraine, and Italy, where the average has risen strongly. Two main factors have driven this change – falling ATM numbers (in Greece and Ukraine) and economic instability (in all three countries), which has caused people to withdraw more cash than usual.
According to Robert Chaundy, who led the RBR study: “Consumer behaviour varies widely across Europe and Asia, but the demand for cash remains strong, and can be driven upwards by economic uncertainty. The runaway growth seen in many Asian markets is set to continue for the foreseeable future, and the key challenge for banks there is getting enough ATMs installed to deliver cash to their customers.”