The federal government and the financial sector have reached an agreement on improved access to ATMs. This was reported by the Minister of Economy Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS) on Friday. At least one vending machine must be present in every municipality.
Belgian banks have been systematically phasing out the number of ATMs for years. After all, many payments are made electronically or via online transfer, which means that it is not interesting for the sector to keep the expensive ATMs open. As a result, many villages do not have an ATM, and the residents who still depend on cash, often the frail or elderly, have to travel miles to collect cash.
Minister of Work and Economy Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) and Secretary of State for Consumer Protection Alexia Bertrand (Open VLD) therefore sat down with Febelfin and Batopin, the collaboration between four major banks on the introduction of bank-neutral ATMs. An agreement has now been reached, Dermagne reports on Friday.
There will be at least one ATM in each municipality must be present. This means that the sector may no longer remove ATMs if the coverage ratio deteriorates and 207 additional ATMs must place by 2025.
Within urban areas, a vending machine must be found within two kilometers, in intermediate areas that is three kilometers and in rural areas, with less than 300 inhabitants per km², five kilometers. This should help prevent queues. In return for 2027 should be all over the country 4,000 ATMs are more evenly distributed than today.
In addition, every resident has the right to 24 free cash withdrawals per yearat any bank, even if you are not a customer.
Finally, ATMs that are directly accessible from the outside facade must be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 85 percent of the population must find an ATM within a five-kilometre drive where money can also be deposited. The latter is especially important for the self-employed and liberal professions.
Dermagne says the deal “stops the rapid demolition of ATMs”. “The sector will take up its social responsibility, which it seemed to have lost sight of”. Van Peteghem is also satisfied. “We have to keep looking back to make sure everyone is still on board,” he says. “Accessible, available and affordable ATMs are a basic right”. Bertrand says the deal “ensures that every consumer has easy access to their money” and welcomes “retailers, SMEs and the self-employed having the option to deposit money securely at an ATM near them”.
For Vooruit party leader Melissa Depraetere, the agreement comes “not a second too soon”. “This agreement stops the phasing out of ATMs and even provides for more than 200 extra ATMs by 2025. An important turnaround in which banks must once again prioritize their basic services and give everyone access to an ATM nearby.”
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