Withdrawals from Saudi ATMs hit $8.5bn over Ramadan

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A total of SR32 billion ($8.5bn) was withdrawn from ATM machines tied to the Saudi Payments Network (SPAN) during Ramadan, according to a top banking official.

Talat Hafiz, secretary-general of the Media and Banking Awareness Committee of Saudi Banks, said Ramadan sales have exceeded SR20 billion, which is an increase of 23 percent compared to the same period last year.

Hafiz added that ATM machines have been in heavy use as Eid approaches.

About 13,000 ATM machines are spread across Saudi Arabia, Hafiz said. They handled 1.3 billion operations last year with a relatively low breakdown level.

Hafiz stated that only 3 percent of ATM breakdowns last year were due to them running out of cash.

Even when an ATM does run out of cash, he said, banks quickly rectify the situation.

He explained that banks could respond quickly because they have control rooms and patrols continuously monitoring the machines.

Banks have been compelled to install electronic depositing services, Hafiz added.

He said that some banks would continue to operate through the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on August 5, 2013

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