Reply to Parliamentary Question on accessibility of ATMs
NOTICE PAPER 516 OF 2017
FOR THE SITTING ON 20 FEBRUARY 2017
QUESTION NO 915 FOR ORAL ANSWER
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 20 February 2017
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Tan Wu Meng, MP, Jurong GRC
To ask the Prime Minister what are the measures that MAS takes to ensure that the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of local banks are fully inter-operable to enable cash withdrawals and bank transactions to be more accessible to the elderly and those with mobility needs.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1 I thank Dr Tan Wu Meng for his question. First, let me say that we have seen a very significant increase in the number of ATMs over the last decade. In fact, the total number of ATMs increased by 65%, in the 10 years to 2015. Taken as a percentage of the resident population, the number increased by 47%. A very significant increase over 10 years. As a result, 90% of HDB households have a local bank ATM within 500m of their homes.
2 If I compare this, for instance, to Hong Kong, which is the closest to us as a densely populated city-state, the coverage of ATMs in Singapore is about 38% greater on a geographical basis, in other words, per square km, and also significantly higher on a per capita basis.
3 This coverage that I’ve mentioned is based on households’ access to two local bank networks – the DBS/POSB network on one hand, and the UOB/OCBC network on the other. But each of these two ATM networks has a high coverage in their own right. In other words, each of them has at least 90% of HDB households having access to their ATM networks within 500m of their homes.
4 Furthermore, I should say that ATMs and bank branches are not the only ways in which people get convenient access to cash - and access to cash is, in fact, the main usage of ATMs today. Cash-back services at retail outlets enable customers to make cash withdrawals from their bank accounts when they make purchases at these outlets. For example, the three local banks have partnered 7-Eleven stores to provide cash-back services. That is quite convenient because they are in most neighbourhoods. DBS has also partnered eight other large retailers, such as Giant, Sheng Siong, Cold Storage and SingPost outlets to provide cash-back services.
5 So, to repeat, there has been a very significant increase in the ATM network in the last decade. There are currently, if I add the cash-back services and other banking touch points that exist, there are currently more than 3,600 banking touch points across the island. These are bank branches, ATMs and non-bank cash withdrawal points, taken together.
6 Nevertheless, we continue to monitor the accessibility of basic banking services in Singapore for different segments of the population. We know that the older population will become increasingly important. We also continue to work with the banks to promote awareness of the various other touch points besides the banks and the ATMs. And we continue to promote, particularly for the younger and middle-aged population, the use of digital payments and other digital basic banking services.