Off-site ATMs Boost Financial Inclusion

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There were 3.3 million ATMs in the world at the end of 2017, of which 51% were located outside branches. The number and share of ABMs continues to increase, with more than 15,000 new terminals installed in 2017.

In rural areas, the ATM is sometimes the only point of contact between a bank and its customers. According to the latest RBR report based in London, Global ATM Market and forecasts for 2023, the location of ATMs varies considerably from one region to another. However, with the exception of Latin America, the off-site location is the favorite place of ATMs in all regions. Nearly two-thirds of the major markets surveyed have more than 50% of ABMs installed outside their branches.

More than 1.7 billion people, mostly in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, were without a bank by the end of 2017. The vast majority reside in rural areas, where it would be impractical to open one branch for each small community, and the ATM the most important physical point of contact – sometimes the only one – between banks and customers. Strong cash culture and government campaigns to expand access to banking services have led to an increase in the number of off-site terminals for rural populations. In Chile and Egypt, for example, financial inclusion initiatives have allowed off-site ATMs to account for nearly 60 percent of all ABMs.

ATMs by location, 2017. Source: Global Vending Machine Market and Forecasts up to 2023 (courtesy RBR).

RBR also found that, faced with rising operating expenses and a decline in the number of customers going to their branches, developed market banks rationalized their branch networks and turned to off-site ABMs to build a more economical customer service channel. This is particularly evident in the Netherlands and Sweden, where the number of branches has declined significantly in recent years: off-site terminals account for more than 70% of ATMs in both countries as they are installed to replace closed sale.

"Off-site ATMs can be a valuable tool, both to integrate new customers into the banking system and to serve existing customers whose branches are being closed," said Rowan Berridge, RBR Research Manager . "Cash should remain extremely important in most markets, and the number of ATMs installed outside bank branches will increase further in the next few years."