Kaag: banks should have legal duty to keep cash services free

Photo: Odi Busman

Finance minister Sigrid Kaag wants to bring in legislation requiring banks to guarantee free access to cash across the country.

Kaag said people who depend on cash were in danger of being left behind as digital banking becomes increasingly common and popular, with cash being used for just one in five in-person transactions.

The number of cashpoints in the Netherlands has fallen from 8,900 in 2015 to 4,900 in 2021.

However, around 13% of people in the Netherlands depend on cash to pay for goods and services, according to a survey carried out by McKinsey in 2021.

“A large group of people are dependent on using cash because they have difficulty with electronic means of payment,” Kaag wrote in a letter to parliament.

“Without good access to cash this group will be less able to participate independently in society.”

The major banks ABN, Rabobank and ING, who operate around 85% of Dutch current accounts, have removed many of their own cashpoints and set up a collective network of yellow Geldmaat ATMs.

Kaag says the voluntary arrangements that support the Geldmaat machines are not sufficient and banks should have a legal duty to maintain the existing infrastructure. The national bank DNB would have the task of overseeing and enforcing the rules.

“Together with DNB I am making an urgent appeal to all parties involved to take their responsibility to society and ensure collectively that access to cash services and their affordability for consumers and counter service providers does not decline further until the proposed legislation is in place,” she wrote.


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