Is it smart removing thousands of ATMs in Australia?
Updated: Mar 7
We definiitely think that the removal of thousands of Australian bank ATMs and branches is not in Australia's economic and national interest.
ATM machines, ATM suppliers, cash, floods, fires, wars, cyber warfare, climate change
Yesterday, the Daily Mail published a story about Australian banks removing thousands of cash machines and bank branches from regional towns and many city suburbs. Is this a smart move? Is reducing the circulation of cash in the population an intelligent action in a country with regular extreme weather events?
From the raging fires in 2019 and the current floods that hit Queensland and NSW, people cannot pay for anything since the electronic payment system is down due to power and telecommunications outages.
What should you carry first in an emergency? Cash of course.
As a business based in Brisbane, the floodwaters came ten meters to our premises. We were lucky. We did not get flooded. However, we did not have electricity or internet for days. While the electricity has been restored, the internet hasn't, making it impossible to make internet payments. As a country, we face some serious challenges regarding our payment infrastructure. AS the RBA has recently reiterated, these challenges will continue into the foreseeable future.
Australian banks are rushing to create a cashless society to increase their profits. We are witnessing millions of Ukrainians running in panic to withdraw cash from their ATM in horror. While we can only hope that we will never be in the position of Ukraine currently, we are not immune to global financial crises.
RBA reports consistently report "runs on the banks" whenever there is a global financial crisis. We witnessed Australians taking record amounts of money from their ATMs and bank branches during the GFC of 2008 and at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. Bloomberg predicts that the Russia-Ukraine war "threatens the world's economic recovery."
In fire-ravaged areas (like Denmark, WA, at the moment), some people are reassessing their fire plans since they didn't include making sure that they have cash on them.
Why are ATMs being removed in areas where the most disadvantaged Australians live?
These removals of ATMs and bank branches mostly happen in areas where most vulnerable Australians live. They are most exposed to the catastrophic events of extreme climate events. Flooding disproportionately affect disadvantaged people. The situation is similar to COVID-19. People living in these areas are poorly served on every level, from health services to banking services. Infection and morbidity rates are much higher in wealthier neighbourhoods.
Is there something that we can collectively do about this situation? We think there is. We have to make sure that cash is widely available everywhere in Australia. Only the independent ATM sector is committed to ensuring that cash is there remains the case. Our electronic payment system will remain highly vulnerable until Australia is becomes serious in addressing the climate crisis.
We are here to step in to help every Australian town and suburb that has been denuded of ATMs and access to essential banking services. We appeal to any operating businesses in those areas to contact us. Mandrake.ATM is happy to consider lowering its ATM processing transaction fees for companies that operate in these areas and would consider buying or leasing an ATM from us.