Warning over cash machine closures

Consumer group Which? has warned that widespread ATM closures could leave people without cash.

The group has called on the regulator to intervene over future of the ATM network.

New proposals cast doubt over Britain’s free-to-use ATM network, it said.

Which? is worried that LINK – the UK’s largest cash machine network – proposals to lower its interchange fee by 20% could lead to widespread closures of machines across Britain.

The interchange fee is paid by banks per withdrawal to maintain the free-to-use ATM network.

Such a change could make many machines no longer financially viable, said Which?

It comes amid another round of rural bank branch closures.

Which? is calling for the Payment Systems Regulator to conduct an urgent market review to fully evaluate the impact this change could have on consumers.

It said millions of people relied on the free-to-use network to access cash.

Which? is concerned that LINK’s proposals are driven by pressure from some banks to cut costs, rather than focusing on the needs of consumers.

It is is also questioning LINK’s claims that Britain’s free-to-use ATM network should be reduced due to a perceived decline in demand for cash.

Such an assumption stands directly against Bank of England figures, which show a 10% increase in the demand for banknotes in 2016, representing the fastest growth in a decade.

Cash remains the most widely used payment method in the UK. Last year, 2.7 million people in the UK were reliant almost entirely on cash.

Which? said it was seeking assurances that all consumers could maintain access to free-to-use ATMs and can continue to use cash.

It said there were huge issues around consumers’ ability to access the services they needed.

Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert said: “With so many consumers reliant on cash payments it seems irresponsible to wave through proposals that could threaten Britain’s free-to-use ATM network.

"Significantly reducing this network could have a real impact on consumers, who might be left struggling to access the cash they need – and so we must see scrutiny from the regulator."


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