An Analysis on the Change of ATM Cash Transactions between 2019 JANUARY – 2021 SEPTEMBER in Turkey

In this series of blog posts, we’ll go into details the changing patterns of cash usage before, during and after the CoViD pandemic in Turkey. In our first article, we are providing a general overview of what happened as a big picture together with our deductions. We’re not citing any specific bank, location, or amount, we’re providing generalized and anonymized data.

Fact 1: Post CoViD, cash demand is higher

With the curfews and the lockdowns, the withdrawals declined by 27% compared to pre-pandemic levels. After the curfews and lockdown were lifted, the withdrawals increased to pre-covid levels in the first 8 months; in the following 8 months, they increased 20% more.

Perhaps due to worldwide inflation as well as consumer behavior, more people prefer to use cash in the post-pandemic era. As a result, the total cash demand of bank customers on ATMs is now higher.

Fact 2: Different ATM locations recover differently

In the total lockdown and curfew period, the ATM usage at Shopping Malls, Airports, Transportation Centers and Universities declined, whereas Hospitals increased. General Usage (on streets, avenues) showed no significant changes.

After the curfews and lockdowns were lifted, the usage at Airports increased however are still below pre-covid periods. The usage at Hospitals surpassed pre-covid era and are still increasing. Shopping Malls also recovered significantly and the usages are now almost at the pre-covid levels.

Fact 3: ATM usage patterns changed uniquely for different areas of Turkey

During total lockdown, the total amount of cash withdrawals compared to pre-Covid period:

  • Declined by 27% in Turkey
  • Declined by 50% in İstanbul-Ankara-İzmir-Antalya metropolitan areas
  • Declined by 20% in Rural regions

After the curfews and lockdowns, in the following 8 months, the total amount of cash withdrawals compared to pre-Covid period:

  • Declined by 1% in Turkey
  • Declined by 15% in İstanbul-Ankara-İzmir-Antalya metropolitan areas
  • Was about the same in Rural regions

After the curfews and lockdowns, in the last 8 months, the total amount of cash withdrawals compared to pre-Covid period:

  • Increased by 27% in Turkey
  • Increased by 10% in İstanbul-Ankara-İzmir-Antalya metropolitan areas
  • Increased by 30% in Rural regions

It can perhaps be inferred that some of the population have moved to Rural areas from Metropolitan areas in the post-CoVid era possibly due to more flexible and remote working conditions.

Fact 4: Touristic areas were hit the most during lockdown

The area that was hit the most in terms of cash usage during the pandemic lockdowns was the Mugla region where most of the holiday resorts of Turkey such as Bodrum and Fethiye are located. This was due to the fact that neither domestic nor international tourists were able to travel to these locations during the intersecting lockdown periods.

Fact 5: Foreign currency transactions hit an all-time high after CoviD

In the total lockdown period, foreign currency transactions declined more than Turkish lira transactions; however, they recovered more and actually surpassed pre-CoVid era after the lockdowns were shifted. We believe that the visits of Turkish Diaspora from Europe played its part in this pattern as in the summer of 2020 they were not able to travel to Turkey, so most of them visited Turkey in the summer of 2021.

Fact 6: Corporate ATM transactions declined and continue to stay low

The amount of ATM usage at Corporate ATMs which are located primarily in business districts with corporate HQs declined with CoVid and never recovered. The continue to stay around 25% of pre-CoVid amounts. We believe this to indicate that most of the corporations continue to work remotely and perhaps shall continue to do so even in the post-CoviD era.

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