More and more mayors are willing to pay several tens of thousands of euros to cash carriers to install ATMs in their towns, in order to compensate for the closure of bank branches or to support businesses in certain neighborhoods.
70,000 euros for the installation
When the post office located in the Plateau de Viry-Châtillon district of Essonne closed a few years ago, “people took it as a desertion,” says mayor Jean-Marie Vilain (UDI). A year and a half later, it is the bank branch of this district classified as a priority by the city’s policy that disappears, preferring the group to open one in the center of the city, where other brands are already present, thus depriving this neighborhood of any means to withdraw cash.
If the nearest distributor is not far in a straight line, it is necessary to cross the road, indicates the mayor. After unsuccessfully approaching several banks, the mayor asked the Swedish company Loomis to make available, upon payment by the municipality, one of its ATMs, which should be operational by the end of the year and could be used by 8,000 people.
Cost of the operation for the municipality: more than 70,000 euros for the installation work, the automaton that requires the construction of a technical room, and 1,600 euros per month for the maintenance and management costs of the machine, a price that may decrease with the increase in the number of withdrawals. Luckily, the municipality was able to benefit from a grant from the Greater Paris metropolis equivalent to 50% of the bill.
Continued decline in ATMs
Today, Loomis, which started this activity in 2021, has installed 136 ATMs in France and aims for a total of 300 by the end of 2023. These ATMs independent of any banking network “showed strong growth momentum in 2021”, stressed the Bank. de France in a July report. “The park has almost tripled between 2020 and 2021, reaching more than 300 automatons.”
At the same time, the total number of dealers, of all types combined, fell by almost 1,000 over the same period, from 48,831 to 47,853, a decrease of 2% and even almost 10% compared to 2018. Consulted, the French Banking Federation specifies, however, that 200 ATMs have been opened in municipalities with fewer than 500 inhabitants in 2021 and that France has almost a third of the bank branches in the euro zone.
Subcontracting and pooling
If the central bank periodically reminds that more than 99% of the population is less than 15 minutes by car from an ATM, this distance is not trivial for everyone. “There is still a need for a distributor, despite contactless (payment), which has become the preferred payment method for the French since the health crisis, and not only in rural areas, defends Mr. Vilain. Especially for vulnerable populations who closely monitor their spending.
The campaigns were the first to request funders, but today “this need (for an ATM) has once again become a priority to revitalize districts on the outskirts of large cities”, underlines Pierre-Yves Locatelli, commercial director from Loomis France. “People generally shop around the distributor,” which benefits retailers, adds Stéphanie Courtois, director of marketing, communication and CSR at Brink’s France, another major independent DAB player in France, with Loomis and Euronet. The income from this activity continues to be derisory for these companies, which already manage tens of thousands of ATMs on behalf of the banks on a daily basis, but this allows them to ensure their main activity, which depends on the use of cash.
For several years, banks have outsourced cash management, and the BPCE group has even sold its ATM network to Brink’s. Next step from the beginning of 2023: the grouping of distributors of BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel and Société Générale, which represent around 40% of the ATM access offer.