While monthly ATM withdrawals have decreased by about 500 million since June 2020, there is still a strong demand for cash transactions, according to a letter from the Central Bank of Ireland.

The bank published an economic letter today (Thursday, October 13), detailing the changes in the value and volume of cash withdrawn from ATM’s in Ireland since 2015, with a particular focus on changes during the pandemic. It states that:

“Despite a rise in card payments in recent years, a steady demand for ATM cash transactions remains clear.”

It found that prior to the pandemic, the average monthly value of ATM withdrawals was roughly €1.5 billion, however, the value now stands at approximately €1 billion.

Despite this, the demand for cash in June this year was 7% higher than it was in September 2021, which the letter states “suggests consumers are withdrawing larger amounts in response to inflationary increases”.

An upward trend has also continued in relation to the number of cash withdrawals made. There were 5.23 million transactions in January 2021, a figure which increased to almost 8 million in June of this year.

In a statement, the Central Bank said:

“The change in the value and volume of monthly withdrawals appears to reflect the stringency of public health measures in place to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Economic activity, particularly in physical locations where cash is used, would have been constrained during periods of tighter restrictions. Accordingly, during periods when restrictions were relaxed, ATM activity increased.”

The strong demand is notable following a recent attempt by AIB bank to remove ATM, cash and cheque services from 70 of its branches due to the massive increase in the use of digital banking services and a decline in branch visits.

This was met with significant backlash from a number of rural and agricultural organisations, who pointed out the necessity of these services, particularly throughout rural regions.

The bank eventually reversed its decision due to what it called “customer and public unease”, caused by its initial decision.