According to the latest People’s Bank of China (PBoC) report on the overall operation of payment systems during the second quarter of 2021, the number of automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the country has fallen below one million.
As of the end of the quarter, there were 986,700 ATMs in China, a decrease of 19,500 units from the end of the previous quarter. In the first half of this year, the total figure had been reduced by 27,200 units.
The world’s first ATM was opened on June 27, 1967, at a branch of Barclays bank in Enfield, UK. The first ATM in China was introduced by the Zhuhai Branch of Bank of China in 1987. At that time, an ATM weighed more than one ton, and a crane was needed for installation. ATMs were mainly for display purposes.
In 1993, China started the “Golden Card Project,” focused on building a national credit card network. After that, banks’ demand for ATMs increased rapidly, and China later developed to become the largest ATM market in the world.
According to data released by the PBoC, the number of ATMs in China reached its peak of 1,110,800 at the end of 2018 after 150,200 were added that year.
With the spread of non-cash payment in China – especially mobile payment – the number of ATMs in the country decreased for the first time in 2019, with a decrease of 13,100 units to a total of 1,097,700 units in the year. In 2020, the downward trend was more pronounced, with a decrease of 83,900 units.
However, people in the industry generally believe that although the ATM market is shrinking year by year, ATMs will not disappear for a long time. Cash and mobile payment will exist in a state of interdependence and mutual development for a long time.