New ATM fees will push electronic payments

By 2021, new fees for cash withdrawals at ATMs will arrive, which could convince more and more people to say goodbye to paper money.

By the end of 2021, withdrawing cash to make purchases could become less convenient than paying directly with a card or other electronic payment method. In fact, the reform of commissions for withdrawals from ATMs is currently being discussed.

In particular, what could change is the commission applied by the bank that owns the ATM to the customer, if the withdrawal is made with a card issued by another credit institution. This is a very frequent circumstance, given that today many banks do not charge any commission to the client, even in the case of withdrawal from a competing bank. At most, a minimum amount is imposed, below which the user is obliged to pay the fee. The reform of commissions for withdrawals from the ATMs of Bancomat Spa is currently on the table of the Antitrust Authority (AGCM).

Bancomat Commissions: how it works today

Today, 80% of the ATMs present on Italian territory belong to Bancomat Spa, a company whose shareholders are 125 banks. A sort of consortium, born thirty years ago to stimulate the diffusion of cards and electronic payments.

At present, whoever withdraws cash from a Bancomat counter does not pay commission if the counter belongs to his bank, while on average he pays 50 cents for each withdrawal made at another bank.

Many banks, especially online banks that do not have physical counters, have chosen a threshold of 100 euros beyond which the withdrawal does not cost anything: if the user withdraws at least 101 euros he pays no commission.

The proposal to modify the commissions

Managing the tens of thousands of ATMs scattered throughout Italy, maintaining them and guaranteeing technological updates to keep them safe has very high costs.

This is why Bancomat Spa proposes to liberalize the commissions for withdrawals. If the proposal passes, each bank will be able to charge us as much as it wants when we make a withdrawal with a card other than its own. Theoretically, the commissions could go down, but it is much more likely that they will go up.

A major problem in small Italian municipalities, where very often there is only one branch to withdraw and citizens have no choice: either they use that one or they move to the next town.

The Antitrust Authority has opened an inquiry into this matter, blocking any change until the final decision. The procedure must be concluded by December 31, 2021.

The good news: electronic payments

While waiting for the situation to unblock, one way or another, users can continue to use Bancomat cards to make electronic payments exactly as before.

Unlike withdrawals, in fact, the proposal of Bancomat Spa does not touch payments and, consequently, all the advantages of cashless payments remain compared to withdrawing money to pay in cash.