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Neder-Over-Heembeek has a cash machine again
After three years of being a cash desert, the Brussels neighbourhood of Neder-Over-Heembeek finally has an ATM again.
The cash machine on Rue François Vekemans is the first to appear since the commune’s last one disappeared in 2020, Bruzz reports, leaving residents with no means of getting cash in their own neighbourhood.
The increasing digitisation of bank services has led to a reduction of ATMs across the entire country, which has prompted concern for vulnerable residents – elderly ones, in particular – who rely on cash as a primary form of payment.
“This has increased the digital divide,” resident Patrick Bongo Tuasukama said of the removal of the last ATM at a municipal council meeting. “Elderly people do not always have the ability to carry out banking transactions through a smartphone.”
Before the new ATM was installed, the closest one was in Rue de Wand in Laeken, half an hour's walk from the centre of Neder-Over-Heembeek. This was especially far for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
The City of Brussels announced that 70 new ATMs would be installed in the city to combat the digital divide arising from their disappearance.
The new ATM in Neder-Over-Heembeek is the 14th to be added in the past year, according to alderman for economic affairs Fabian Mangain (Défi).
“When I became alderman, I was confronted with the closure of bank branches, which meant that residents systematically saw their ATMs disappear,” Maingain said. “We then immediately contacted Batopin.”
Batopin - the Belgian ATM Optimisation Initiative, a consortium that includes Belfius, KBC, BNP Paribas Fortis and ING - is an initiative to roll out brandless ATMs in Belgium in light of the closure of so many branches.
Maingain wants to bring ATMs back to all the city's shopping districts so that every resident can find one within a 10-minute radius.
Through Batopin, banks should provide some 4,000 ATMs across Belgium by 2027.