Customers annoyed over more ATMs dispensing only $50 notes

A growing number of automated teller machines (ATMs) now dispense only $50 notes and not $10 bills - to the annoyance of some customers. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
A growing number of automated teller machines (ATMs) now dispense only $50 notes and not $10 bills - to the annoyance of some customers. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

A growing number of automated teller machines (ATMs) now dispense only $50 notes and not $10 bills - to the annoyance of some customers.

Checks with the three local banks indicate that OCBC is the only bank which still issues $10 bills at all its roughly 600 ATMs.

Fewer than 2 per cent of United Overseas Bank's (UOB) more than 600 ATMs do not issue $10 notes.

But Singapore's biggest bank, DBS Bank, which also operates POSB and its ATMs, declined to give the number or proportion of its ATMs issuing only larger bills.

The trend has sparked letters to The Straits Times Forum page and prompted Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng to file a parliamentary question earlier this month on whether banks should dispense $10 notes at ATMs - not just larger notes.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, also Finance Minister and minister in charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), replied that 85 per cent of the roughly 2,700 ATMs here dispense $10 notes. He said banks are influenced in their approach by customer demand. "MAS will continue to monitor the situation to ensure adequate access to smaller denomination currency notes."

Contacted by The Straits Times, Mr Seah said it is important that consumers are given choice. "Some may not have $50 in their accounts and some may just want to withdraw $80, so why should they have to choose to withdraw either $50 or $100?"

Ms Tan Xanthe is one of several disgruntled customers who have written in to the Forum page about the issue. "This amount is a huge sum for students and low-income earners. Some of us do not need such a large amount at one go, while others may not even have that much money in their accounts."

Another letter writer, Ms Janagi Somu, said two POSB ATMs near her place had been reconfigured to dispense large notes.

A spokesman for DBS, which has more than 1,100 ATMs, said some ATMs configured to dispense only $50 notes have been changed to dispense $10 and $50 notes. "For ATMs that dispense only $50 notes, we noticed that while the number of withdrawals has decreased, the overall cash withdrawn has remained at a consistent level," she said. "This indicates that customers may be making fewer trips to withdraw the amount they require."

DBS added that customers are turning to non-cash channels such as debit and credit cards, and mobile and Internet banking.

A UOB spokesman said: "More than 90 per cent of our customers' cash withdrawals are done at ATMs and a large number of customers make frequent withdrawals in small amounts. This is why we continue to make $10 withdrawals available to our customers."

OCBC's head of e-business Pranav Seth said: "Many customers have (given the) feedback to us that they would need to withdraw $10 at times."

feimok@sph.com.sg

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