Fears of a cashless society grow as seven out of 10 ATMs could start charging… or face an ax

Fears of a cashless society grow as seven out of 10 ATMs could start charging… or face an ax

  • More than 37,000 ATMs are at risk of being removed or charged
  • The interchange fee paid by banks to operators does not increase with inflation
  • Machine operator Notemachine says 2,100 of its ATMs could become chargeable
  • The number of free ATMs has already decreased by more than 12,000 since 2019

Up to seven out of ten ATMs could be cut or impose fees.

One of the UK’s largest independent machine operators, Notemachine, has warned that fee reductions it collects from banks may leave businesses with no other options. This means that more than 37,000 free ATMs are at risk.

It comes after Link, who runs the UK’s ATM network, told operators that interchange fees, paid to them by banks when their customers use a machine, would not increase despite the increase operating costs.

Operators say that not raising it in line with interest rates and other costs means an effective reduction in revenue. Typically, a bank pays the operator a fee of 26.5p per use, but 29.3p for status-protected machines, where they are considered essential.

More than 37,000 ATMs are at risk as machine operators warn that fee reductions they receive from banks may leave businesses no choice but to scrap them or impose fees

Notemachine said that unless fees are increased, more than 2,100 machines on its network are at risk of becoming chargeable.

Caroline Abrahams, of the charity Age UK, told The Sunday Telegraph“For many older people, cash greatly facilitates day-to-day transactions and widespread availability is essential.”

A spokesperson for Link said its task was to ensure that every high street with five or more stores had free access to cash.

Notemachine’s Philip Bowcock said: “The increase in the discount rate and the inability to increase funding accordingly has put even greater pressure on operators, which means that this reduction in funding is far greater than 10% in real terms – representing further stealth cut funding.

Charity director for Age UK, Caroline Abrahams (pictured), said the widespread availability of ATMs is essential for older people who still rely on cash

Charity director for Age UK, Caroline Abrahams (pictured), said the widespread availability of ATMs is essential for older people who still rely on cash

The machines most at risk are the tens of thousands that operate in corner shops.

The only machines likely to survive were those tied to banks, supermarkets or if they have “protected status”, where operators receive higher fees for maintaining what is considered an essential service.

The number of free ATMs has already decreased by more than 12,000 since 2019 to around 40,400 today.

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