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Belgian government calls for changes to planned ATM locations
The Belgian government has criticised a plan by the country's four major banks to install more cash dispensers (ATMs), saying it falls short of addressing citizens' needs.
With the advent of online banking and subsequent closure of many bricks-and-mortar banks, a large number of Belgium's most vulnerable residents who are reliant on cash – the elderly in particular – now need to travel great distances to use an ATM.
Batopin, the name of the network formed by the country's four major banks, received a letter from the federal government demanding changes to its plan to address the issue.
At the end of March 2023, the federal government and the financial sector agreed that at least one ATM should be available in every municipality, which would require the installation of 200 new machines.
But the government’s letter criticises Batopin for not respecting the agreement.
“Due to various changes, the distribution plan was no longer correct, so they had to consult the National Bank again,” said a government spokesperson.
“The primary objective remains that everyone should have easy access to cash.”
The National Bank made a number of recommendations regarding locations and various meetings were held between the various parties.
“We also plan to meet the firms concerned again next week,” said Marie Janart, head of locations at Batopin, adding that the remaining disagreements concern the last few dozen ATMs and it hopes to reach an agreement by spring.