Despite the growing popularity of online shopping and contactless card payments, cash remains vital for millions of consumers and many local businesses and LINK, the UK’s main ATM machine network is funding requests from communities who have cash access issues.
Launched in October 2019 and with funding from the banking industry, LINK has to date had 3,800 requests from members of the public and visited more than 200 locations. LINK is looking to hear from communities where there is a high street with a minimum of five shops without free access to cash from via a Post Office or ATM within 1km or where circumstances such as geography or traffic may make travel to the nearest access point difficult.
When a location is identified to have a problem, LINK will visit to see if there is an appropriate location to install a new free to use ATM or whether an existing pay to use machine can become free to use.
The pandemic has seen many people using digital payment methods, but research conducted by the FCA highlights that there are approximately five million adults that continue to rely on cash. For them, ATMs and Post Offices are vital, and LINK wants to ensure that they have easy access to it.
The first community to benefit from a machine was Durness in the North West Highlands, where a previous ATM closure forced residents to travel more than an hour away to the nearest ATM. Other machines include the seaside town, Battle (East Sussex), New Tredegar in Wales and Consett (County Durham).
To date more than £30m has been withdrawn from the ATMs. LINK expects to install 100 ATMs in communities to guarantee free access to cash.
LINK’s Head of Financial Inclusion, Nick Quin: “We’re delighted to be supporting communities across the country with free access to cash. COVID-19 has proven that the most vulnerable people in society will continue to require free access to cash and we’re determined to respond to that need.”
“It’s great to see so many communities contacting us, we’ve responded to all enquiries to date and will continue to install free ATMs for communities that need them.”
“If you think your community has a problem, then firstly we always ask people to check the LINK ATM locator, as the majority of locations have good access. Not everyone is aware that there’s a free to use machine nearby or that the Post Office provide an over-the-counter service. We’ve heard from communities where ATMs are in shops that have restricted opening times, or on the other side of a busy road, and wherever there is a genuine issue we will act. Communities will always know their areas better than we can, so we want to hear from more.”