Due to the corona pandemic, consumer behaviour has changed significantly and money is withdrawn considerably less often. After the disappearance of more than half of all bank branches in Spain, there is also a risk of a surplus of ATMs.
The request to pay using as little cash as possible in connection with the coronavirus has consequences for the future strategies of the banking sector. The majority of financial transactions are now carried out electronically and it remains to be seen whether consumer behaviour will change again after the end of the pandemic.
ATMs are less likely to disappear
For the time being, Banco Santander intends to keep the current number of ATMs in operation. With the acquisition of Banco Popular in 2017, a large number of bank branches were closed for good. At the presentation of the results in 2020, Bankinter announced that it will not close any branches this year and that it will keep all ATMs operational. They apparently have confidence that consumers will refill their wallets with cash once the corona pandemic is over.
Consumer behaviour has changed during the corona pandemic
In itself, that confidence is not unfounded, because, in the last nine months of 2020, an average of €162 was withdrawn per transaction. This is despite the trend to pay as little as possible with cash. The average amount withdrawn at a time in 2019 was €138. This was already a record at that time.
From the crisis year 2008 to September of last year, a total of 23,901 bank branches were closed in Spain. It is expected that between 300 and 400 branches will be added to this number when all banks have presented their 2020 results next week. In the same period (2008- September 2020), 11,950 ATMs disappeared from the Spanish streets
Fewer bank branches after mergers
In 2008, Spain still had a record number of bank branches (46,662) and ATMs (61,714). In 2011, 40,000 banks were remained open and in 2016 there were only 30,000. 2021 will be the record year for the smallest number of bank branches and ATMs. This is largely due to the mergers in the banking sector in recent years. Relatively speaking, the decrease in the number of ATMs was a lot less significant; of these, only about 10,000 disappeared between 2010 and 2020.
40% of Spaniards still visit their bank every month
While most financial transactions are now handled with a mobile phone payment app, four out of ten Spaniards still visit their bank at least once a month. From 2019, paying by credit card or mobile phone has become especially popular among the younger generation. In that year, the number of transactions at banks or ATMs fell by 2.8% for the first time in five years. This decline in consumer behaviour continued in 2020 as a result of the corona pandemic. At the height of the crisis, in the second quarter, it was only half of the previous year. During the corona pandemic, the Spaniards are withdrawing money considerably less often. However, the average debit card amount increased from 138 -162€ at a time.