December 7, 2017

If this goes on…


If you click through, things are less local and immediate: ATMs could be extinct in Australia within 30 years


A projection of data from the Reserve Bank of Australia by has found ATMs could be a distant memory in Australia by 2036.

2036 is in 19 years, and 19 is less than thirty, so I suppose that counts as within 30 years. So how did they do the projection? There’s not much detail in the story and I couldn’t find any on

The story says

According to, the number of ATM withdrawals per month has fallen from a high of 73 million in 2010 to just 47 million this year. If the trend continues at the same rate, ATM use will reach zero in three decades.

Now, I can fit a straight line to data. They teach you this in statistics. They often also teach you not to do it with just two points, but whatever

Ok, maybe had more data or more detailed data or something, but the information in the story is all we have, and it doesn’t really support either “2036” or “30 years”

I don’t know how long ATMs will last. And I don’t think does either. But they do know how to get a free mention in the Herald.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient

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  • avatar

    26m reduction divided by 17 gives 1.5m per year, which would be about 30 years to reduce the remaining 47m.

    Could have been a keypad slip. Tracing your finger up the number pad to 7, accidentally touching 1 on the way.

    I’ve seen it before. Sometime around 2010 I reviewed a cost-benefit analysis. Excel, but no calculations were linked to cells. Everything was manually inputted.

    There was one single error: 17 rather than 7. Added a couple of hundred million to either the benefits or costs of some biosecurity intervention.

    1 week ago Reply

  • avatar

    But more likely worked out how long it’d take to reduce from 73m, but added the years to this year, rather than 2010.

    Gets you pretty close to 2036.

    1 week ago Reply

  • avatar
    Thomas Lumley

    Yes, that second one makes sense. For the first one you’ve still got the problem that they said 2036.

    In both cases you need a second slip to think that 2036 is nearly 30 years away rather than nearly 20 years aways.

    1 week ago Reply

  • avatar
    Steve Curtis

    Could be the ATM withdrawal fees have meant small value amounts have dropped while high value amounts have increased.
    Could be interesting for the total value of ATM withdrawals per month.
    This story shows fees were introduced around 2010 which led to an increase in
    rate of installation of ATM machines. It may also say what the cash value was but its 2012 so out of date

    1 week ago Reply

  • avatar
    Duncan Garmonsway

    The wider context is that phone boxes aren’t yet extinct.

    14 hours ago Reply

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      True, though the primary function of a lot of them is now as WiFi sources.

      14 hours ago Reply

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