The use of cash in Switzerland has declined significantly in recent years The digitalization of payment transactions and the Covid pandemic have further accelerated this process. Nevertheless, cash remains an important means of payment for many Swiss people in their daily lives. An adequate supply at the national level must therefore ensure the availability of cash at reasonable prices in order to meet the various needs.

SIX – Competence Center for ATM Operations

For more than 40 years, SIX has been the leading provider of financial infrastructures and a partner to banks for comprehensive solutions in the operation of ATMs. The company already operates the system for the largest ATM network in Switzerland and thus makes a significant contribution to the cost-effective supply of cash. The services provided by SIX include the stable and secure processing of transactions, the ongoing maintenance and further development of the operating software and common standards, and the operation of the only Swiss test center for ATMs.

Outsourcing ATM Services – The First Step Toward Securing the Long-Term Supply of Cash

Cash withdrawals from Switzerland's more than 6,000 ATMs have been declining sharply for years. At the same time, operating costs for maintenance, security measures, software updates and ongoing innovations to improve the user experience remain high. As a result, ATM transactions are becoming increasingly expensive for banks.

Against this backdrop, banks have been turning to outsourcing solutions for some time. SIX takes over the entire operation (ATM as a service) or, if desired, also the bank's ATMs (Cash as a service).

The more ATMs SIX operates, the better the processes can be optimized and economies of scale achieved. In this way, banks can reduce their operating costs and continue to offer their end customers a comprehensive cash supply.

"In fall 2023, SIX has been operating the first ATMs with its own branding at selected locations. In spring 2024, Baloise Bank Ltd. also decided to outsource its ATM fleet to SIX in a future-oriented step. This will enable Baloise Bank Ltd. to guarantee its customers a long-term supply of cash throughout Switzerland. We are already in discussions with other banks," says Dieter Goerdten, Head of Banking Services at SIX.

Dieter Goerdten has been Head Business Unit Banking Services at SIX since 2022. He is responsible for managing the supply of cash and the management of ATMs as well as for the operation and digitalization of Swiss payment transactions – always in close cooperation with the banks.

Pooling – Joint Work as a Long-Term Solution

Against the backdrop of a further decline in cash transactions, there is a risk that the number of ATMs will decrease and that access to cash will become increasingly difficult for the population. SIX has therefore been working with financial institutions for some time to promote the "pooling" of ATMs. According to a study conducted by SIX together with the company Senozon, there is currently a clear oversupply of ATMs in Switzerland. The study shows that the number of ATMs could be significantly reduced through optimization without having a negative impact on the population's access to cash.

The idea is for the banks to contribute their ATMs to a joint company that organizes operations centrally – a process known as "pooling". This company then ensures that the devices are optimally positioned so that cash is still as easily accessible as possible. SIX is in intensive dialogue with the Swiss financial institutions on this issue.

With these and other initiatives, SIX is working closely with the Swiss banks to ensure a sustainable cash supply for the future.

Innovation at the ATM

Some 60 years ago, the first drive-in bank opened on Zurich's Paradeplatz. Customers could drive up to the staffed counter, do their banking and withdraw cash. The first ATM followed in 1967, allowing customers to withdraw cash around the clock. A lot has changed since then. Today, for example, you can use your mobile phone to generate a QR code to withdraw cash, or make contactless deposits and withdrawals using cards and mobile wallets via Near Field Communication (NFC).

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