ATM Availability Rate

Another question that gets asked a lot is regarding ATM availability rate. Again, there is no standard industry definition for ATM availability. Every financial institution has its own definition and target. This blog aims to provide you some guideline around this topic. It looks at the 3 most common ATM availability definitions, and how they are defined and the benefit and issues of such definition.

ATM Availability – Network Availability

ATM is defined as “Not Available” when the ATM shows “Out Of Service” screen. When ATM is “Out Of Service”, one or more of the following conditions should happen.

– When there’s a network outage (i.e. Ethernet, dial-up, satellite, etc.)
– When ATM terminal driving host is down (i.e. Base24, Connex, etc.)
– When ATM switch connection is down (i.e. Base24-VISA, etc.)

With the modern server environment and updated server equipment, the network outage becomes rare. Many major North American ATM networks (i.e. First Data, Fiserv, Elan, etc.) guarantees a network availability rate over 99% (excluding local physical network availability). With this definition, even with physical network (i.e. Ethernet) considered, the overall network availability rate should be at 99% or better.
However, ATM is “In Service” and “Available” doesn’t necessarily mean that ATM can perform any transactions, or any of the ATM’s devices are available. The ATM Network Availability doesn’t provide the complete picture of ATM Availability; more details should be looked into from the perspective of the following definitions.

ATM Availability – Any Functions/Features

ATM is defined as “Available” if ATM is “In Service” and can perform at least one function/transaction. In many scenarios, transactions or services can be performed with minimal devices available. For example, Balance Inquiry, Funds Transfer, Cheque Reorder, etc. It’s arguably true that these transactions can be performed without a Cash Dispenser, a Depository, or even a Receipt Printer.
Many financial institutions use this definition for their ATM Availability stats. This measurement of ATM Availability normally provides a high availability rate, but not necessarily representing the core functions availability status of the ATM network, which is discussed in the section below. An ATM network availability of 98-99% is considered to be a good availability rate under this definition.

ATM Availability – Essential Functions/Features

ATM is defined as “Available” if ATM’s essential functions, transactions, and devices are available. The essential devices are normally defined as Cash Dispenser and Depository (sometime with Receipt Printer as well). The essential services are normally defined as Withdrawal and Deposit related transactions. ATM is marked “Not Available” if any of the essential devices is down, or any of the essential services cannot be performed by a customer.
The essential devices normally have a higher downtime rate comparing to other ATM devices due to its heavy usage, jam rate, and replenishment schedule. Financial Institutions utilizing this definition of ATM Availability normally has a lower availability rate. Most financial institutions are running a 96-98% ATM Availability rate under this definition.


Based on my experience with many large financial institutions, I typically recommend my client to use a mixture of both “Any Functions/Features Availability” and “Essential Functions/Features Availability” definition when measuring the availability rate of the ATM network. With both numbers available, it can provide a more complete picture of how well the ATM network is serving FI customers.

Still not clear about this? Let’s chat about it.

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