Dutch Cashless Crash Leads to Rush on ATMs

May 30, 2024


Thousands of card payments failed across the Netherlands mid-May as the company that manages cashless transactions between banks experienced a failure, leading to a rush on ATMs.

Dutch news site NU.nl says more than a third of PIN-based payments were unsuccessful on the evening of 16 May, with thousands of reports pouring into outage tracker site allestoringen.nl and a spokesperson describing it as ‘a nationwide malfunction.’ Further problems were reported on Saturday 18 May.

The Netherlands Payment Association confirmed ATMs were experiencing no issues, and ATM provider Geldmaat added that their machines were ‘operating normally and seeing a huge spike in use.’ Unfortunately, machines in some areas ran out of money, highlighting the value of always having some cash to hand to make payments offline, anytime, without relying on having a bank branch or ATM nearby.

Commenters on the article defended digital payments, pointing out downtime is relatively rare, while emphasising the importance of also keeping cash, both to ensure choice and competition in payments, and to serve as a backup during cashless failures.

While most downtime experienced by cards and payment apps will be relatively brief and limited to their systems, outages can be more serious, such as in the wake of a disaster that knocks out wider infrastructure. For these occasions, experts recommend everyone holds an emergency cash stash in a safe, secure place that would enable them to cover essentials such as food, fuel, medicine and shelter for at least two weeks.

Last Updated: May 30, 2024