From today, should a high street be threatened with the loss of its last ATM, LINK will step in to ensure that a free-to-use ATM is made available and paid for with funding from all the UK’s main banks and building societies if there is no nearby Post Office counter to serve that community.
In March, the independent Access to Cash Review said the UK is not ready to go cashless and set out a series of measures necessary to ensure no one is left behind as the UK moves towards an increasingly cashless society.
The Post Office’s more than 11,500 branches are playing a key role in ensuring that customers of all UK banks have easy access to cash withdrawal services, no matter their personal circumstances or location. With 93 per cent of people living within a mile of a Post Office, they are ideally placed to provide easy access to vital banking services.
LINK’s announcement today will ensure that, as the UK continues to evolve from a high-cash economy to one where most payments are made digitally, ATMs – which remain a vital part of the UK’s cash infrastructure – are protected.
LINK has also announced that, for the first time, it will directly commission free-to-use ATMs in communities with poor access to cash. Over the coming months, and with the support of local MPs and councils, ATMs will be installed in Battle, East Sussex, Bungay, Suffolk, Hill Top in Nuneaton, Tywyn in Wales, and Durness in Scotland. The locations will form a restricted trial that will run through 2020.
LINK CEO John Howells said: “LINK is determined to defend free access to cash across the UK in the face of very rapidly declining cash use. Today’s action will protect consumers whilst much needed industry reforms to move to a more sustainable utility infrastructure take place.”
LINK is protecting all retail centres in the UK with five or more qualifying retailers. Qualifying retailers means most shops and retailers other than those such as cash and carry and restaurants. Free access to cash means a free ATM or Post Office counter within one kilometre of the weighted mid-point of the retail centre. There are currently c6,500 retail centres like this in the UK. At the moment, only about ten have no free access to cash and LINK will run a competitive procurement process to have ATMs installed in these locations during 2019. In the future, any retail centre that loses free access to cash will have it replaced by LINK via a competitive procurement process. This will be funded by the banks and building society members of LINK. An initial sum of £4m has already been raised to support this. LINK’s detailed Polices can be found at http://www.link.co.uk.