A decline in ATM usage in the U.K. has left many people resorting to only using their local shops to withdraw cash, due to a declining number of bank branches and free-to-use ATMs. However, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said that the Link service’s cut in fees that it pays to cash machine operators has more of them disappearing.
According to the ACS, Link must preserve more of the machines, and reverse the cuts in fees. If not, access to cash will be in danger in many communities.
The ACS statement said, “For millions of people, their local shop is now the only place where access to cash is available, especially as more than a third of bank branches have retreated from High Streets, towns and villages in the last five years.”
One shopkeeper, Sunder Sandher, said he had to agree to pay his machine provider an extra 200 euros ($224.16 USD) per month to keep it free for customers, and that he saw it as imperative for those customers. He told the BBC that he had to make that choice to retain business. There were seven ATMs within distance of him, and his was the only one that was free to use. So, he noted, the choice was a business-sensible one.
Since early 2018, Link has reduced the intercharge rate — or the amount it pays per withdrawal — to the operators of the machines. Due to this, the number of free ATMs has gone down by 13 percent between January 2018 and September 2019. The ACS decried those statistics, saying the decisions had robbed people of their ability to access their cash for free.
To remedy this, Link set up a plan where communities could request free ATMs, and received over 2,700 requests for such. Link defended its actions by saying it supported free cash access, and took action because the use of cash overall had been falling.