The UK’s largest ATM network has watered down plans to change the way free cash machines are funded after a Which? Money investigation revealed cash machines were disappearing at a rate of several hundred per month.
LINK had proposed a phased 20% reduction to the interchange fee – the amount paid by banks to ATM operators when you use your card to make a free withdrawal. However, on 16 July it announced that the cuts would be frozen at 10% pending a review next year.
The U-turn comes less than a month after Which? Money revealed around 300 ATMs had closed every month between November 2017 and April 2018.
ATM operators told us that they had reduced their estates in anticipation of the cuts to interchange, which they claimed threatened their entire business models. This fee was previously set at around 25p. LINK’s original proposal would have seen it reduced to around 20p over four years.
Our analysis of LINK data showed that ATM closures had accelerated dramatically in the months after it first announced its plans. LINK originally disputed our findings, but later published figures showing the picture was even more bleak than we had found – ATMs closed at a rate of more than 500 per month in the first five months of 2018.