The vital role of the ATM on Black Friday

What steps must banks take to understand when peaks in ATM activity occur, and how should they plan accordingly?

Friday 24th November 2017 is Black Friday again in North America – and, increasingly, around the world. Falling on the day after Thanksgiving, this perennial retail extravaganza marks the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping period for consumers.

Shoppers all over the world are drawn in by the many special offers advertised by retailers. In the US alone, consumers are set to spend more than US$50 billion over the Black Friday shopping weekend (which concludes with Cyber Monday), according to statistics listed on finder.com.

The role of cash and ATMs

Consumers will understandably use a variety of payment methods this year to pay for their items, be it on credit or debit cards, or through more modern methods such as mobile and the capability to pay bills online. In spite of this, cash still accounts for a significant number of payments in North America. The 2017 Health of Cash study from Cardtronics and Edelman Intelligence showed that 80 percent of US consumers make cash payments at least on a monthly basis.

In 2016, there were 6.3 billion cash withdrawals (in terms of volume) undertaken at North American ATMs, according to Retail Banking Research Global ATM Market and Forecasts to 2022. These cash withdrawals totaled a staggering US$775 billion. It is the incredible value of cash that is dispensed from these North American ATMs that is of significance come Black Friday. If we break down this huge US$775 billion figure, we see that on an average day North American ATMs will dispense:

  • US$88.4 million every hour
  • US$1.5 million every minute
  • US$24,560 every second

So, over the course of Black Friday it’s possible that a phenomenal US$2.12 billion will be dispensed from ATMs in just one day. It is also likely that some of the previous day’s cash withdrawals will be used for Black Friday spending, which is another US$2.12 billion.

On average, each of North America’s 500,000 ATMs will handle around 1,100 cash withdrawals per month but it is fair to say that on Friday 24th November, this number will be much higher.

It’s not just in the US that Black Friday has become a shopping phenomenon. In the UK, for example, consumers are expected to spend £10 billion during the week leading up to Friday November 24th, the Guardian reported.

Preparing the ATM channel

ATM deployers are aware of the demand that consumers are expected to place on the ATM on this particular day. They need to ensure they properly manage physical cash distribution throughout their fleet and keep their ATMs secure from the threat of skimming and logical and physical attacks. Plus, both financial institutions and retailers need to defend against widely dispersed threats of fraud.

Efficient cash replenishment will be another key concern, to ensure that ATMs are able to handle the sudden increase in activity at this time of year.

With Black Friday 2017 shaping up to be another multi-billion dollar shopping day in terms of consumer spending, and cash still a vital and popular payment mechanism, ATM demand could be higher than ever before.

Financial institutions that invest in managing and maintaining their ATM network will ensure that consumers are able to access the key services they need.

 

Image: iStock/Piranka

Written by Colin Gordon

Colin Gordon

Colin Gordon is a SelfServ Marketing Manager and is based at NCR’s R&D Center in Dundee, Scotland. Colin is responsible for the marketing of NCR’s financial hardware portfolio with a specific focus on Cash Dispense ATMs & financial trends.

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