EghtesadOnline: The number of ATMs in Iran reached 58,442 by the end of November, which shows banks installed more than 1,800 new devices in one year to meet increasing demand for services out of the branches.
Data released by the Central Bank of Iran's Office for Payment Systems, shows that the state-owned Bank Melli Iran added 8,1250 ATMs, higher than other lenders. Bank Saderat Iran was next with 5,153 machines, and Bank Mellat third with 4,952 ATMs.
The data also showed that Tehran Province, the most populated province in the country, had 13,320 ATM devices.
There are more than 22,000 bank branches in Iran, about half of which are not needed. Financial experts and policy pundits believe lenders should start downsizing and close the extra branches, and instead focus on improving and expanding online services, according to Financial Tribune.
In recent months bank branches have been closing down, especially in districts where real estate prices and rents are expensive and where there is overconcentration of banks and lending institutions.
ATMs are the most popular and trusted banking technology in the country of80 million. A considerable number of bank customers still rely on ATMs for banking services rather than other applications and online platforms. More than 1.42 billion transactions were processed via the automated teller machines in the first three months of current fiscal year that started on March 21).
World Bank data shows that Iranian banks had 87.69 ATM machines per 100,000 people in 2018, which is much higher than the average in MENA region at 27.93 (2017) or in the world, which is around 41.5.
ATM is in its third decade of existence in Iran. Bank Sepah, the first Iranian bank, was the first to introduce the machine in 1992 by installing it in its central branch in central Tehran, issuing 100 debit cards for its managers to get cash from the ATM.
Bankers have been urged to consider renovation of their network of ATM devices, rather than merely expanding it. Recent technology, like ATMR, Virtual Teller Machines and cashless ATMs are among proposed improvements that banks could consider.
Using VTM, customers can be in touch with their banks conveniently and services requiring bank account numbers can also be handled. The cost for banks is also reduced as the VTM is a low-cost unit.
Certain features and services such as the ability to deposit money via ATMs can serve as forward steps, as it removes the need for referring to bank branches.