Belgium’s big four banks to build shared ATM network

Belgium’s big four banks are joining forces to set up a network of bank-neutral ATMS, with the aim of accommodating changing customer behaviour towards the use of cash.

Developments in the payments landscape are prompting banks to reconsider their proprietary ATM networks, partly because of the serious investments that continually have to be made in stocking ATMs and implementing security measures.

Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING and KBC say the arrival of contactless and mobile payments has led to a significant decline in the use of cash and a sharp downturn in cash withdrawals from ATMs.

The proposal to create a shared network will deal with the current oversupply of machines in city centres and sparse distribution in remote locations.

Under the plans, the banks say 95% of people in Belgium would have access to an ATM no further than five kilometres away, with many installed off-premises or at standalone sites.

The roll-out of the new network will be phased, with the first new ATMs appearing around mid-2021.

The initiative is line with recent moves to shared distribution in the Netherlands, which itself followed the Swedish model of having a dedicated brand for cash machines.

The Dutch roll out has had its problems however, with a recent wave off explosive attacks on off-site machines prompting the banks to shut down cash machines overnight.