Link, the UK’s biggest ATM network, has announced that it is pushing through plans to make changes to the way that fees are paid to cash machine operators, a move that operators say could cause a significant reduction in the number of free cash machines.
Link had initially planned to cut this by 20% over a four year period, to 20p. From 1 July 2018, it will reduce the interchange fee by 5%, or 1p, and review the fee annually. It says this will reduce the number of cash machines in areas where there are too many and secure the future of free ATMs, arguing that the move will improve the geographical coverage of ATMs across the UK. But independent cash machine operators have railed against the proposal, saying that they will be forced to close ATMs which will no longer be financially viable.
Gareth Shaw, Which? Money Expert, said:
‘These proposals could leave consumers facing an uphill struggle to access the cash they need, trekking miles to machines, or shut out of local shops and services altogether.
‘Consumers are clearly still reliant on the free-to-use ATM network, so the Payment Systems Regulator must conduct a thorough market review of LINK’s proposals to ensure their needs are protected.’
Mike Cherry from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said
‘Access to cash is absolutely vital to local growth in rural and deprived communities. Too often we hear of towns running out of cash because current cashpoint provision simply isn’t good enough.’
‘Consumers and small firms have already been hit by thousands of bank branch closures in the last few years. Now, our cash machine network is under threat. We’re not convinced that today’s announcement includes enough protections for vulnerable communities.’