ATM Tracker

Weekly ATM value and volume figures 23 January 2022.

Key observations for the week ending 23 January 2022:

  • The volume of ATM transactions increased by 2% when compared to the previous week in 2022.
  • The volume of ATM transactions increased by 23% when compared to the equivalent week in 2021.
  • The volume of ATM transactions decreased by 37% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.

Weekly LINK ATM transaction volumes

Last week there was a total of 27.7 million ATM transactions which represents an increase of 0.5 million ATM transactions over the previous week.

In 2022, there was an increase of 5.1 million transactions or 23% when compared with the equivalent week in 2021.

Since the Summer, the volume of ATM transactions in 2021 had been tracking very closely to 2020, diverging in November reflecting the difference in conditions across the two years. The divergence though was caused by the reduction in the volume of transactions in 2020 rather than any growth in 2021 with activity remaining steady as evidenced in the graph below.

For the first three weeks in December the graphs were once again merging as caution increased in 2021 and many areas emerged from lockdown causing similar conditions again in both years. A seasonal fall can then be seen at the end of December across all the years.

Activity in 2022 is continuing to pull away from 2021 as expected given the Lockdown restrictions last year. We would expect to see this continue for the next few weeks with the paths likely to merge again from around April or May.

Source: LINK

From Lockdown 1.0, 2.0, Tiers & 3.0 to Steps 1 to 4 out of Lockdown and then Plan B….

This graph shows the impact on ATM Transactions throughout the first year of lockdowns in 2020 and initially at the beginning of 2021 with Lockdown 3.0. Then a gradual increase from January to March can be seen followed by the spikes at the end of March and mid April as restrictions were eased at each of these stages.

This was followed by increased activity over the May bank holidays with fairly consistent volumes seen since that time. Since the Summer months activity across both 2020 and 2021 was very closely matched with the exception of the comparison with Lockdown 2.0 in November 2020.

The usual seasonal fall at the end of December is clearly evidenced in the graph below which follows a usual pattern although overall activity this year is also likely to have been further dampened by the overall Covid restrictions in place and cautious behaviour.

After a slow start to January, the volume of ATM transactions in 2022 is tracking above 2021, although it remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

ATM Transactions are likely to increase back to the volumes seen in last Summer and thus whilst digital payment habits have been reinforced during each lockdown, there is still a consistent underlying level of cash usage by those who need to rely on cash and by those who choose to rely on cash.

Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK said in the report published on 21 January that: “Anecdotally, locations such as markets or even pubs that pre-pandemic only accepted cash, now all have card readers and continue to actively encourage contactless payments. Therefore, some consumers who are confident using digital or contactless payments, now use cash less often than they did pre-pandemic and seem unlikely to ever revert back. However, we know that there are still more than five million people who rely on cash and digital payments are not an option. It’s therefore good news that while ATM and cash use may have fallen, LINK is committed to protecting access and the Government says it will be bringing forward legislation to support access to cash.”

Source: LINK

This next graph also shows the trajectory of ATM Transactions through each lockdown and the easing of restrictions at each stage.

In 2021 the volume and value of ATM Transactions were at firstly significantly below the equivalent months in 2020 and then increasing above the previous year as restrictions lifted compared to 2020 when restrictions were at their tightest.

Conditions were at their closest over the two years over the Summer with hospitality re-opening at the beginning of July 2020 and with businesses operating under similar restrictions to those currently in place in 2021. The convergence of the graphs shows a consistent level of ATM transactions and value across the two years under these similar conditions.

The two graphs diverged as conditions differed during November but have now converged again as similar restrictions were in place across the two years with both years showing the usual seasonal reduction in volumes at the end of the year.

The latest ATM volumes have now been added and show the activity is consistently above 2021 after a slow start. Assuming the floor in the volume of transactions remain consistent we would expect the graph to merge again in April and May when restrictions were lifted in 2021.

Source: LINK

The overall volume and value of transactions had been very subdued throughout each of the Lockdowns compared to pre-pandemic levels as shown in the next graph below. This graph shows the pattern as restrictions began to be eased. Both volumes and values are recovering from the seasonal fall and Plan B restrictions with volumes currently around 60% and values around 65% of pre-pandemic levels.

Source: LINK

Daily LINK ATM transaction volumes

Link has provided the following graph to show the daily transaction volumes for each Thursday in each of 2019, 2020 and 2021 and for the beginning of 2022. ATM transactions first pulled ahead as restrictions eased earlier in 2021 – but then continued to track almost identically to those in 2020 – although consistently still around 35-40% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The volume of transactions has picked up after the first week but remains well below the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and the beginning of 2020.

Source: LINK

The following graph shows the daily transactions compared to 2020 and 2019. The similarity to 2020 can be seen – with the increase in the volume of transactions each weekend clearly shown.

ATM Transactions over the Christmas and New Year weekends are highlighted with New Year’s Eve in particular being ahead in 2021 although still significantly below 2019.

Source: LINK

Monthly LINK ATM transaction volumes

LINK transaction volumes and values in January and February were affected by the various lockdowns across the UK with the volume of LINK transactions down 46% and values 38%, when compared to January and February 2020. Restrictions were only introduced towards the end of March 2020 and thus although an increase was seen month on month, the actual volumes in March 2021 were still 26% below that seen in March 2020.

The easing of restrictions led to increasing volumes month on month from April onwards with the monthly volumes also ahead of 2020. The gap had however closed in July reflecting the very similar conditions across the two years – in both cases both retail and hospitality venues had re-opened but with social distancing restrictions in place.

Over the summer and early Autumn ATM use settled into a similar pattern as 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions were broadly the same. Transactions for July to September were within a few percentage points of last year’s and while there appears to be some daily variation in that Monday to Wednesday is usually quieter than 2020 while the weekends are busier, overall the figures were remarkably consistent.

In November a divergence re-occurred as 2020 reflects the impact of Lockdown 2.0 with the gap closing again in December.

The total number of ATM transactions fell from 2608.4 million in 2019 to 1642.6 million in 2020 – a fall of 37%. There was a further fall of 7% in 2021 with the total number falling to 1521.7 million. However the majority of this fall was caused by the comparison with pre-pandemic levels at the beginning of 2020 – volumes fell by 40% when comparing January to March 2020 with January to March 2021. However in the remainder of 2021 from April to December the volume of transactions increased by 8% as activity increased as restrictions were lifted.

Source: LINK

Volumes and values remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels and it seems certain that there has been a fundamental change in how some consumers are using ATMs and cash. However, even with this overall reduction in usage, around £7 billion has been withdrawn each month since restrictions eased at the beginning of the Summer.

The value of ATM Transactions fell by 30% in 2020 compared with 2019. However, although the fall from 2020 to 2021 was only 3% reflecting the higher value per transaction.

Again the difference can be seen through the year with the value falling by 32% for January to March 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020 but increasing by 10% over the remainder of the year.

Source: LINK

The following graph shows how the number of ATM transactions each month have been changing over recent years (millions). Again the impact of each Lockdown in 2020 and at the beginning of 2021 can clearly be seen followed by the persistent underlying level of transactions as restrictions eased during 2020 and again in 2021.

Source: LINK

The following graph shows the volume and value of ATM Transactions since January 2020 compared to the Office for National Statistics figures on card use. The trend has been similar for each until November 2021 which shows a marked divergence as card use rose above pre-pandemic levels whereas ATM use in the same month has fallen.

Source: LINK

The graph below shows the impact of the various lockdowns in the average withdrawal amount. The average withdrawal value increased by almost £20 to over £85 during the first lockdown . This would appear to be due to non essential trips being discouraged and this led to fewer outings and thus more cash withdrawn each time. With leisure and hospitality closed there were also fewer opportunities for lower value spontaneous cash requirements.

This was reinforced during each lockdown and the average withdrawal has continued to be high throughout the remainder of 2020 with only a modest fall last Summer.

We had seen the average value fall once again once restrictions were lifted from March 2021 although the average value still remains high compared to historic levels.

Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK said in the report published on 21 January 2022:

“In the second half of last year the numbers were similar to what we saw in 2020. This is beginning to feel like the new normal and we don’t expect the number of transactions, or the amounts withdrawn, to return to anything like pre-pandemic levels. In fact, what we’re generally seeing is that consumers that are using ATMs have formed a new habit of visiting less often but withdrawing more cash each time they visit, typically £10-£15 more.”

Source: LINK

Predictions

With such a sharp drop in ATM transactions during 2020 a further significant shift from cash to digital may have been the logical expectation for 2021 but the volume of ATM transactions has remained remarkably consistent since restrictions were lifted. During November the activity for 2020 reflected the impact of the second lockdown and an increase in the year on year comparison for both volumes and values occurred – however this was caused by the fall in 2020 rather than any significant change in the activity in 2021.

For the first three weeks in December, with 2020 reflecting a lifting of restrictions in many areas and 2021 seeing a tightening due to the new variant, similar conditions were in place and activity levels converged again accordingly.

The seasonal fall in the last week of the year is in line with historic patterns and volumes are now beginning to recover as expected. Over the New Year weekend the activity in 2021 was ahead of 2020 although again still significantly below the pre-pandemic levels. This remains the case in the first few weeks of 2022 as we return to more normal levels of activity but 2021 still shows the impact of Lockdown 3.0.

Thus, although more may move to digital solutions over time, we can see that a considerable number are still reliant on or are choosing to rely on traditional payment methods including cash. This is reflected in the consistent underlying level of ATM cash transactions seen in 2021. We expect to see a similar pattern throughout 2022 assuming restrictions are either at the same level or less than those currently in place.

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