ATMs in a Cashless Society: Adapting to Changing Consumer Habits

cashless atm

ATMs remain easy to spot across big cities and small towns alike, and you can find them in different types of locations like banks, shopping centers, gas stations, and grocery stores. Besides, modern-day ATMs do more than dispense cash and give people the ability to access various banking-related features. However, given that an increasing number of people are turning to digital banking, it’s fair to wonder about the role of ATMs in a cashless society.

Where Things Stand

The concept of going cashless has been around for a while, but the penetration of digital payments has increased significantly in recent times. According to a McKinsey survey, 89% of Americans now use digital payments in some form, and the percentage of people who use two or more types of digital payment methods increased from 51% in 2021 to 62% in 2022.

Results from a Visa study indicate that 16% of consumers use only digital payments, 25% feel they will make the shift in the next two years, and 53% expect to make the transition within 10 years.

When it comes to ATMs, a Wall Street Journal article points out that their number in the U.S. has decreased from 470,000 in 2019 to 451,500 in 2022.

The Effect of Cashless Payments on ATMs

There is no denying the fact that the ATM industry is under tremendous pressure owing to society’s gradual shift toward cashless payments, and one can see that it’s doing its best to keep up with changing times. For instance, contactless ATMs give people the ability to access their money using mobile wallets, and cashless ATMs print out receipts that consumers may redeem for cash purchases.

Besides, even as more people shift to cashless transactions, ATM providers continue to adapt to their changing requirements. Going forward, you may expect to find ATMs that come with a myriad of features, allowing you to make bill payments, open a new account, print a checkbook, get a replacement card, deposit a check, exchange foreign currency, and more.

Given that cryptocurrencies are finding favor with more than enough people, there has also been a rise in the number of Bitcoin ATMs that let you buy, sell, and exchange various cryptocurrencies.

The Need for Cash Remains

While digital payments have increased significantly over the last few years, the need for cash remains omnipresent. For example, ATMs still play a crucial role in reaching out to the underbanked population in low-income regions and developing markets. Besides, if a payment system or a network provider is down, processing a card or a mobile payment is not possible and you still need cash to pay for your purchase.

In September 2023, Block’s merchant business Square suffered a daylong outage, disrupting debit and credit card payments. Around Christmas of 2022, a blizzard knocked out telecommunication systems in parts of the U.S. and Canada, affecting POS transactions.


The future of ATMs in a largely cashless society will see the introduction of various new technologies to adapt to changing consumer behaviors. For example, contactless and cashless ATMs are already finding takers from different sections, which is also the case with Bitcoin ATMs. If anything, the ATM of the future might minimize a consumer’s dependence on visiting a bank’s physical branch.

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