An ATM set up in a library bus in a village in the province of Salamanca
In a move that will likely be popular with visitors traveling around Spain as well as Spaniards living in small towns and rural areas, the Spanish parliament has greenlighted a bill to guarantee access to at least ATM services in every town or neighborhood with 5,000 or more people.
The bill is in response to a wave of banks closing branches and removing ATMs as more and more financial transactions go online or digital, leaving behind people who are poorer, older, or traveling. Between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest rate of branch closures in Europe, losing 48% of its branch banks. In 2021, the Bank of Spain noted that over three percent of the Spanish population find it difficult to get cash.
The bill defines areas that are 'at risk of financial exclusion' based on having a population of 5,000 or more and no ATM or branch bank; the law would force banks to install ATMs in such communities, and would bar them from passing on the cost to customers. The law would also require that the ATMs operate in the co-official languages of Spain, including Catalan, Basque and Valenciano.