The Hustle

A frantic fleet of ATMs-on-wheels is trying to stop Scotland’s bank-pocalypse

Scottish banks tried to go cashless before their customers were ready, and now they’re sending out ATMs on wheels to keep the peace.

June 3, 2019

The number of bank branches in Scotland has fallen from 18k to less than 8k, and cash-crazed customers are starting to get cantankerous.

To address the shortage, banks are building automated teller-mobiles that drive around the countryside offering angry Scots a way to withdraw cash — for as few as 30 minutes a week.

The Scottish cash crash

Last year, 460 Scottish ATMs disappeared each month as banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays scaled back physical infrastructure to compete with digital-only banks like Monzo, Revolut, and Starling — leaving 1.5k formerly bank-filled towns bank-less.

But Scottish customers — particularly older people in rural areas — didn’t adopt online banking alternatives as quickly as expected, and when they were suddenly forced to travel 2 hours to get to an ATM, they got cranky.

Now, people rely on ‘banks on wheels’…

But that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. 

When armored, Wi-Fi-enabled RBS bank-mobiles visit rural towns, angry Scottish grandmas and peeved pub owners routinely curse out the cash carriers.

But, for now, the cash trucks are needed to cater to the bill-and-coin crowd — which still accounts for 38% of the UK’s population.

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