Central Bank publishes research examining ATM withdrawals and use of cash before and after the pandemic

13 October 2022 Press Release

Central Bank of Ireland

  • Prior to the pandemic, the average monthly value of ATM withdrawals was around €1.5 billion.  Withdrawals have moved in a narrow range since June 2020, with an average monthly value of about €1 billion.
  • The value of ATM withdrawals in June 2022 was 7% higher than in September 2021, suggesting consumers are withdrawing larger amounts in response to inflationary increases.
  • Both the number and value of ATM withdrawals fell during periods of stricter Covid-19 public health restrictions and increased when restrictions were less stringent.

The Central Bank of Ireland has today (13 October 2022) published an Economic Letter, “ATM Cash Withdrawals Before, During, and After the Covid-19 Pandemic”. Authored by David Cronin and Niall McInerney, the paper examines changes in the value and volume of monthly ATM cash withdrawals since 2015, with a particular focus on the period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Letter finds that, despite a rise in card payments in recent years, a steady demand for ATM cash transactions remains clear. The average value of ATM withdrawals was broadly unchanging prior to the pandemic. Average monthly withdrawals amounted to €1.51bn per month between January 2015 and February 2020. Following the imposition of a strict lockdown due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in mid-March 2020, ATM withdrawals declined sharply, before recovering. Monthly ATM withdrawals averaged €1.04bn from June 2020 to June 2022. The research also finds that the value of withdrawals has been increasing in line with higher rates of inflation. The amount withdrawn in June 2022 was 7% higher than in September 2021, reflecting the percentage value increase in the Consumer Price Index.

In terms of volume, the Letter finds that the number of ATM withdrawals also declined in spring 2020. However, the number of monthly ATM withdrawals has been rising since January 2021. During that month, 5.23 million withdrawals were made, compared with 7.95 million withdrawals in June 2022. The Letter indicates that 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.


Notes to Editor

Economic Letters – Full Series