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Written by Cyndie Martini
on June 16, 2020

Back in mid-April, we reported that Paramount Management Group, a Lancaster, Penn.-based ATM fleet operator, was using a disinfectant product produced by ViaClean Technologies, to create a shield on ATM surfaces. Despite these efforts, it's become clear that ATM use has fallen. But why?

In a recent ATMIA survey, the majority of respondents said they were able to use only 75% or less of their ATMs. Within that group:

  • 23% were at less than 25% ATM use
  • 27% were at less than 50%
  • 25% were at 50-75%. 

The lull can mainly be attributed to supply chain issues and COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions have created a very difficult business environment … especially [for] our Independent ATM Deployers,” Mike Lee, ATMIA’s CEO, said to CreditUnionTimes.

For some businesses that had to shut down, this also shutdown use of any ATMs on the premises. Many of these locations are non-financial centers, such as banks. Instead, they are retail businesses and popular tourist spots, which have both been hit severely hard by the economic lockdown.

Another reason for the decline in usage was an anti-cash campaign led by pseudo-science, targeting cash as a transmission vehicle for the virus. Currently, it is well-known that COVID-19 droplets can remain in the air for a few minutes. This puts any interaction with physical surfaces at risk as a possible transmission vehicle, including ATMs. 

The ATM industry seems to have come to a standstill with companies deciding to forego additional investments “as a result of economic uncertainty and a loss of business confidence,” as mentioned in the survey. The survey noted problems in getting parts and shipment of ATMs due to supply chain issues.

This all certainly begs the question about the viability of cash-based businesses during such events. Cash was 14% of everyday purchases before COVID-19, according to consumercredit.com. As businesses move to avoid cash during the epidemic, consumers will have no choice but to go cashless. Will cash return to pre-COVID-19 levels is anyone's guess.

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