Ninety-seven per cent of withdrawals from cash machines in the UK were free last year according to data released by the Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs).
Cash machines were relied upon to supply more than half (53%) of all cash to individuals, with 2.37 billion transactions in 2003, equating to an average of 75 withdrawals per second. The aggregate value of all transactions reached £144.1 billion, or £4570 per second.
While bank and building society-owned machines account for just over two–thirds of all cash machines in the UK, they still handled nearly all withdrawals last year. The average cash withdrawal value was £61 (1998: £53) at bank or building society ATMs and £46 at independently-owned machines.
With independent operators aggressively extending their networks, the market appears far from sated. An additional 5636 cash machines were deployed in the UK during 2003, bringing the total number of machines to 46,461 (up 13.8%) - the fastest growth rate in Europe.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications of Apacs, says: "We will reach a saturation point, where the demand for more locations will dwindle. But as our latest results show, that day is far from the present."
The survey results were released as Apacs reported on the latest plastic card expenditure statistics. In the twelve months to April 2004 average monthly plastic card expenditure grew by 12.8% to £20.1 billion per month, shared between debit cards (up 15.9% to £10.7 billion) and credit cards (up 9.4% to £9.4 billion). Monthly average plastic card transaction volumes grew by 8 per cent to 436 million – equating to some 160 transactions per second.