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Top 3 Dutch banks to merge ATM networks for security, efficiency

ING Groep NV, ABN AMRO Group NV and Rabobank will merge their ATM networks to improve security and facilitate greater oversight of all cash machines, a Rabobank spokesman said in an interview June 6.

The top three Dutch banks announced their decision to create a joint ATM network similar to the ones in Sweden and Finland on May 31. The banks have signed a letter of intent and plan to bundle the networks into one company, Geldservice Nederland, or GSN.

The main reason behind the deal is the increasing trend toward digital payments. "We have seen an [average annual] decline [in cash payments] of about 5% to 5.5% over the past few years," the spokesman said.

Another "rather disturbing" trend has been increased criminal activity related to ATMs, which has prompted the three banks to remove some of their cash machines in particularly vulnerable locations, he added.

In future, the banks will remove some ATMs in very busy locations with easy access to a lot of cash machines while adding new machines in more remote locations. The goal is to keep the current rate of accessibility at 99.67%, or even increase it, according to the spokesman.

After the cooperation is sealed, the three banks will remove the so-called "guest usage," which limits Dutch bank customers to just one free withdrawal from an ATM of another lender every 24 hours, the spokesman said.

The three banks are open to the idea of including other lenders in the joint scheme, but a decision is likely to be made after the third quarter, when they are expected to finalize the ATM merger deal.

ING, ABN AMRO and Rabobank operate more than 80% of the ATMs in the Netherlands.