The number of ATMs in Australia has halved over the past five years, according to a report from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Newly released figures show there were 13,814 convenient cash machines across the country in 2017. But as at June 2022 there were just 6412.

It wasn’t only the number of ATMs that had been reduced. Bank branches had also been disappearing, with their numbers slashed from 5694 to 4014 during the same five year period as more Australians moved to internet banking.

Westpac closed the most ATMS. The bank had 1429 in 2020 compared to 3073 in 2015, according to federal parliament economic committee reports.

Commonwealth Bank ATMs reduced by 800 in the same period, while ANZ removed 500. NAB had 341 ATMs after 100 were removed over the past five years.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe said the pandemic had accelerated a shift away from cash as people purchased goods and services online.

But Swinburne University Professor Steve Worthington said Australians in regional areas were still relying on cash.

“Cash is still important for a lot of people particularly in rural areas where people have limited or no internet access and have people who are elderly and recent arrivals to Australia,” he said.

Australia’s first ATM was installed in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in 1977 by the Queensland Teachers’ Credit Union.

ATMs spread across the country in the 80s and their numbers continued to grow until 2017 when the popularity of ‘Tap and Go’ bank cards for in-store purchases saw the numbers suddenly decline sharply.

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