ATM withdrawal limits stoke fears of financial meltdown

By Douglas Ernst

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. will limit ATM withdrawals for non-customers to $1,000 per day
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. will limit ATM withdrawals for non-customers to $1,000 per day

A move by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co to limit ATM withdrawals by non-customers to $1,000 per day did little to ease fears of a looming financial meltdown.

The largest bank in the U.S. claims its new cap on daily cash, which will affect 18,000 machines across the nation, is a security precaution to limit criminal activity.

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‘[We] felt it was prudent to set withdrawal limits on all of our ATMs,” bank spokeswoman Patricia Wexler said Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The financial blog Zero Hedge said Monday that 11.5 million leaked “Panama Papers” suggests otherwise given the vast sums of money that allegedly circulated through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The website said Chase’s new policy is part of a “global war on cash” by elites with their hands on the levers of power.

“So, there is more than the total U.S. GDP being laundered in offshore tax havens, but yes, let’s eliminate the $100 bill to cut down on corruption and money laundering,” the website wrote. “Of course, we are sure this is just another ‘storm in a teacup’ as why should anyone question a fine upstanding and trustworthy bank withholding people’s money when they are assuredly tax evaders, terrorists, drug dealers and human traffickers.”

Journal reader Joseph Emanuele said a run on U.S. banks is “inevitable” on Monday.

“When cash is outlawed, only outlaws will have cash,” added reader Dave Mulligan.

David Albertazzi, a senior analyst focusing on retail bank channels at Boston-based consultancy Aite Group, told the newspaper that new ATMs offer services historically provided by tellers. He said new features also bring additional security risks that must be mitigated.

“Banks are looking to provide the flexibility but at the same time balancing their own exposure,” Albertazzi told the paper.

Chase cites customers in Russia and Ukraine, for example, who were withdrawing $20,000 in a single transaction once its ATMs were able to dispense $50 and $100 denominations.

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Banks are not subjected to any rules on how much cash their ATMs are allowed to dispense. Chase, however, is one of the first big U.S. banks to impose limits for the machines.

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