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France: Tobacco Shops to install ATMs

Categories : Cash connects people, Cash is a public good
November 9, 2021
Tags : Access to cash, ATM, Cash Infrastructure
As the number of bank-operated ATMs continues to decline in France, new solutions are enabling access to cash throughout the territory. ATMs are due to be installed in tobacco shops as part of a pilot programme.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

Bank-owned ATMS are continuing to Decline

The number of bank ATMs has decreased in recent years, as in many other mature economies. According to the Banque of France, the number of ATMs dropped by 4.1% in 2019 to 50,316.  The ECB SPACE survey shows that the number of people perceiving access to cash as fairly difficult to very difficult more than doubled between 2016 and 2019, growing from 3 to 8%.

Source: ECB SPACE study

Three of the largest French banking groups, BNP Paribas, Crédit Mutuel and Société Générale announced in October they would analyse the pooling of their ATMs. While the banks claim that this could increase the interoperability of services offered at the ATMs – including deposit and withdrawal of cash, deposit of checks, consultation of accounts, printing of bank details statements – the move could also accelerate the consolidation of the ATM network as the experience has shown in other countries, such as the Nordics or the Netherlands.

The three banks are still considering options. The decision is expected in December 2021, before a possible implementation, if the result is positive, in 2023. Hardware and infrastructure issues constitute the core of the study, in parallel with the dialogue with stakeholders, and regulators. Above all, “the initiative is open to other banks, ” said a spokesperson for one of the three banks.

In October, after the local bank announced it would remove the last standing ATM in Loupian, a village located in the south of France,  the residents managed to save it by filing a petition that gathered 10,000 signatures. “Preserving the ATM, it preserving life, local activity. It supports the local businesses to which the municipality is absolutely attached”, explains Deputy-Mayor Bernard Vidal.

Local ATMs and Cash-Access Points

In addition to bank-owned ATMs, cash management companies are now offering local authorities a new solution whereby they install and operate an ATM and charge a fee to the municipality. At the end of June 2020, there were 27 ATMs installed by CIT companies in partnership with local authorities.

Besides ATMs, France also counted 25,636 cash access points at the end of 2019, a 10.1% increase since 2018. The majority are bank-branded cash dispensing services which are only accessible to the customers of the network. They include for instance BNP Paribas Nickel points, Crédit Agricole’s Relais CA, Crédit Mutuel’s relay points, as well as La Banque Postale’s various points of contact.

A Unique Network with a high Rate of Availability

As tobacco sales continue to decline, tobacconists are seeking to diversify their business activities and increase their revenue streams. As part of a pilot project, twenty ATMs will be installed in tobacco shops this November, as announced in a joint statement by Confederation of tobacconists and cash management Company Loomis. The 24,000 tobacconists in the country will then be offered to host this new service, said Loomis and the Confederation.

“Cash withdrawal is part of the essential services that the network can offer,” said Philippe Coy, president of the Confederation of tobacconists, demonstrating “the local value, on a daily basis of a network with “unique density” and “very high availability” of points of sale open “on average 12 hours a day, six days a week.”

The tobacconists will thus increase the diversification begun in recent years to offset the steady decline in tobacco sales, for which they have a monopoly and which still represents their main source of income. They generate 40 billion euros in sales per year, including 21.8 billion from tobacco products, on which they receive a commission of 8.1%. But tobacco shops also generate from a myriad of other services: sale of lottery games and sport gambling (€13.7 billion), bar and restaurant (1.8 billion), newspapers (1 billion), snacking (700 million), vaping products (220 million), or even tax collection, management of Nickel bank accounts and parcel post, sale of SNCF tickets… A recent partnership was formed with the retailer Casino, allowing them to host a food section.

In addition, “some 1,700 tobacconists” are now “retailers of postal products, which represents 7% of the points of contact of the Post Office”, said Cazaban-Marque, director of the operational pole of the Confederation of tobacconists. Also, some 12,000 tobacconists, or one in two, have collected 94 million euros on behalf of the tax authorities, for payments of fines, bills for nursery, canteen or hospital, since the implementation of this service in July 2020, with over 100,000 transactions per month.



This post is also available in: Spanish