Keeping the Cash Flowing

Cash machines and ATM executives will work overtime this New Year Eve

What will most people do after they get all dolled up for New Year’s Eve parties? The answer, run to a bank machine for money for the evening.

Most of us wait until the last minute to get the cash we need to get us through the weekend, and that’s the main concern of ATM executives. They are worried about a last minute run on funds and the possibility that bank machines might not be able to keep up.

It’s not the fear of Y2K that’s the biggest concern, they feel that problem is under control. It’s the problem with people and perception. If a bank machine happens to run out of money and people think it's computer Y2K related this could cause a mad rush for cash.

"Our greater concerns are not the technology…it’s consumer psychology" said Ron Congemi the president of the Star system.

Congemi told the American Banker that a study showing 14 percent of the public is concerned about their ATM cards not working. While 14 percent doesn’t seem like a large number it can translate into a huge problem. If all those people worried about their money decide to take out all their cash, the machines will run out of money. It is not a Y2K issue; it is a supply and demand issue.

The Federal Reserve is preparing for the possibility of increased demand. As of September 30, it had about $200 billion on hand. That’s $50 billion more money in the vaults than they typically have.

ATM executives will be working around the clock this holiday weekend to make sure bank machines stay stocked with cash. NTSE Corp. president Dennis Lynch will be working in the control room of his company’s data center in northern New Jersey. The area will serve as a year 2000 command post. Senior executives, software technicians, communication managers and others will be keeping a constant watch on operations.

ATM executives understand that people want to have money on hand just in case. They want people to understand that they don’t have to take all their money out of the bank, just enough for a long weekend. They also say, don’t wait until the last minute. Get your cash now, that way you won’t