ATM Numbers Plunge by 40,000 in China as COVID-19 Spurs Digital Payments and Online Banking Adoption


The presence of Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) in China has drastically fallen in the wake of the widespread use of digital banking and mobile payments.

A report from the Chinese central bank indicates in the first half of 2020 the number of ATM’s in China fell by more than 40,000 units, amidst an ongoing rise in the use of mobile payments methods by Chinese consumers in tandem with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the second quarter major banks in China saw a 26.99% YoY rise in the number of mobile payments transactions processed, while the number of online payments transactions processed by non-bank payments organisations increased 14.48% YoY.

As of the end of the second quarter the number of ATM’s in China stood at 1.0521 million, for approximately 7.52 units per 10,000 people.

The rise of mobile payments and online banking has sharply reduced the reliance of Chinese finance consumers on traditional physical banking outlets, as well as cash-based transactions and ATM machines.

Data from the China Banking Association indicates that in 2019 the average off-counter rate for the Chinese banking sector was 89.77% – a figure that is expected to further rise in 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19 prevention measures.

Declining use of ATM machines has hit equipment manufacturers hard, with Beijing’s ATM VI Professional posting losses ever since 2018, and a 2.3588 million yuan loss in the first half of 2020.