When severe cold weather bites – the ATM becomes more important

By : Colin Gordon

January 30, 2019 01:00 PM

When the forecast calls for severe cold and snow, it means a real risk that many bank branches could close temporarily. A wave of winter storms and severe weather has recently been declared across the US with Chicago, Wisconsin and Michagin all declaring a state of emergency as weather forecasts of an arctic polar vortex, bringing heavy snow and freezing temperatures threatening to freeze the country.


It is at times like these that effective cash management at the ATM to ensure high availability of cash for consumers becomes very important.  Ensuring cash is available to consumers at the right time and the right location is not a new strategy and there is prior evidence to suggest the ATM becomes an even more vital banking channel for consumers at times of severe weather.


ATMs love blizzards


An article a couple of years back on PYMNTS.com took readers back to the importance of the ATM when very severe snow last hit the United States. An excerpt from article:


“On February 5th 1978, an incredible 17 inches of snow fell on New York City in about 24 hours, and the city ground to a screeching halt! Nothing, especially banks were open – which presented a problem for consumers, who started getting cash at supermarkets. These supermarkets however promptly ran out of cash!  Guess what though? Ready and waiting, were ATMs - poised and able to come to the rescue of consumers, delivering high level consumer experience and cash availability just when it mattered.  During the storm, the use of the cash machines shot up 20 percent, more or less, overnight.”


Consumers love ATMs too


Fast forward to 2019, and the United States of America currently has over 500,000 ATMs compared to 11,775 back in the late 1970s. Although consumers nowadays do have access to a wide range of digital and electronic payment methods, cash still proves important for consumers alongside other digital banking channels. Take the United States for example where $1,241B of cash is now in circulation (source: Bank of International Settlements).


Availability of cash in such severe weather or environments is something that can be best emphasized by the fact that there are now NCR SelfServ ATMs even in the Antarctic or in ski through locations.  This proves that consumers continually demand access to cash wherever and whenever they need it and a solution like the NCR SelfServ 28 (a fully weatherized ATM proven to operate in extreme temperatures as low as -35c) is helping financial institutions serve their customers in a secure and cost effective manner.


While the weather may remain uncertain, what can be predicted is that high levels of cash availability at the ATM will always be important for consumers!

Colin Gordon

Financial Services SelfServ, Marketing Manager

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Colin Gordon is a Global ATM Marketing Manager 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 activities such as demand generation, sales enablement, market analysis and customer engagements for the ATM business.