The availability of ATMs in Malta is almost one and a half times as high as in the rest of the euro area, new data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows.
According to data published for 2019, the average for the euro area is 65.1 per 100,000 persons, while in Malta the ratio is 96.0, according to information recently published in the Quarterly Review of the Central Bank of Malta.
ATMs in Malta are offered by five main local credit institutions, and since 2017 also by a foreign-licensed financial institution.
The ratio is heavily influenced by the large amount of ATMs operated by the latter, Euronet, which exercises passporting rights to operate in Malta.
In fact, if one were to exclude Euronet from the figures, the number of ATMs per 100,000 persons stands at 49.0 – considerably lower than the eurozone average.
The study conducted by the Bank reported that there were 405 ATM terminals in Malta as at December 2019, although the number rises to 434 at certain times of the year since a few terminals are operated on a seasonal basis while others were installed temporarily at events and other sites.
The amount has only risen slightly since 2018, although it stands at more than double what it did a decade ago.
This results in an average of 1.28 ATM terminals per square kilometre, which – however – tend to be concentrated in specific areas of the island, usually strategically located near bank branches, shopping centres, food outlets and touristic areas.
No less than 44 per cent of all ATMs can be found in the northern harbour region, concentrated around Sliema, St Julian’s and Paceville. A further 23 per cent are found in the north, predominantly in the touristic areas of Mellieħa, Qawra and Buġibba.
Although ATMs in Malta offer a variety of services, these are mainly used for the withdrawal of cash. Given the rising share of card usage, especially over the internet, for transactions purposes, it appears that the prevalence of ATMs has had an impact on the number of people who used to go into bank branches to withdraw money over the counter for such purposes.
The shift from cash transactions to online card payments has been also amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 as well as by the increased take up of contactless cards. Although there is a clear trend of increased card usage by the public in transactions, there is still further scope for more use of electronic means of payments.
The volume of cash withdrawals using Maltese-issued cards increased, from 10.8 million in 2010 to 13.2 million in 2019, while the value increased from €1.1 billion to €1.9 billion.
Meanwhile, reflecting demographic developments as well as the surge in tourism, the volume and value of transactions using foreign cards increased more sharply, up from 1 million in 2010 to 3 million transactions in 2019, while the value increased from €154 million to €402.2 million during this period.
The average value per ATM cash withdrawal – carried out by resident cards – increased from €110 per transaction in 2010, to €146 per transaction in 2019.