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Journal joaommp's Journal: European Union wants to send the ATM system back into stone age

Portugal has one of the most, if not the most, advanced ATM networks in the world. While on most countries the ATM networks seem to be handled by individual banks, the Portuguese ATM network, called Multibanco (yes, as in multi-bank) is owned and ran by a state entity called SIBS (Sociedade Interbancária de Serviços - roughly inter-banking business society). This unified ATM network allows the state and the banking businesses to save millions in equipment, maintenance and headcount, as well as in transactions between banks. Besides the TPA terminals that allow people to comfortably pay for their shopping on the establishments with their precious credit and debit cards, there are also ATM machines, but these are packed full of features: not only can you withdraw money from your account, but you can also pay for your taxes, your electricity, water and phone bills, your Internet, top up your mobile phone credit, buy train tickets, buy seats for some shows and a lot more. All this on any of the more than 10000 ATM machines spread around the country. This is all free for the users. How's it paid? First: the businesses that receive money paid through the TPAs pay 0.8% of the transaction for "small values" and 3% of the transaction for "big values" to SIBS; and second: all credit and debit cards have an annual fee of 10€ (about $15).
But now, the European Union wants to link all countries together with a single system. However, even though it could seem logical, there are a few problems: first, there is no public or financial demand for it (as, between other reasons, trans-border credit/debit card transactions are less than 3% in almost all countries and less than 2% in Portugal); second, it's estimated to cost 3 billion euros; third: the banks plan on starting to charge 1.5€ for each transaction (withdrawing funds, paying stuff, etc); fourth: on the ATM machines, the european system will only support the fund withdrawal feature, which would effectively result in Portugal losing a very advanced and successful system that is also free. The consequences? Some people will stop using banking accounts, others will resort to checks, there will be an increase in robberies as the wallets will again be carrying large sums of money to avoid the fee. So, not only will we lose functionality and be setup with a critically inferior system, but we will also have to pay more for it.

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ATM system de-evolution

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