ATMs Grow Less Common

The number of ATMs has fallen every year since 2019.

March 06, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—“The slow move toward a cashless society is helping to send the ubiquitous ATM into decline around the U.S., presenting challenges for those who still largely rely on cash,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

The number of machines in the U.S. peaked in 2019 at 470,000 but has since fallen to 451,500, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

“Cash and checks are forecast to fall to 14% of total payments this year from 42% in 2010, with the most precipitous drop coming just after the pandemic started in 2020, according to Euromonitor estimates,” the Journal writes.

Concerns about the virus spreading through paper money during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in credit card transactions. Other factors contributing to the fall of cash are:

  • The ongoing trend of buying online
  • Credit card rewards points incentivizing putting all expenses on a credit card
  • More people are opting to send money digitally for money needs such as allowances, tips and splitting bills via payment apps

More banks are shuttering outside or vestibule ATMs due to security concerns. “Right now the biggest threat to the [ATM] industry is not electronic payments, but ATM crime,” said David Tente, the ATM Industry Association’s group executive director for the U.S. and Latin America.

“Our customers are increasingly using digital channels and transacting less often at ATMs and in branches. At the same time, cash withdrawal amounts have increased over the last several years, indicating cash remains popular among customers,” Julia Tunis Bernard, Wells Fargo spokeswoman, told the Journal.

But don’t count the ATM out. The tech is changing. New ATMs, for example, can include the ability to videoconference with a teller directly from the ATM. Bitcoin-enabled ATMs are another innovation that may draw customers back to the ATM.