The UK's Nationwide Building Society says it is introducing new clearer signage across its free-to-use cash machines to make it easier for consumers to tell which ATMs impose charges. The move follows news from independent ATM operator Cardpoint that it had seen higher than expected profits from 275 formerly free-to-use ATMs it acquired from HBOS last year.
Whilst virtually all ATMs were free six years ago, Nationwide says its research shows that now 42% charge consumes for withdrawing cash.
Nationwide says it is introducing clear and unambiguous signage on all of its ATMs and the large wording on a bright green background will enable consumers to see at a glance that they will not be charged.
The building society, which has actively campaigned for clearer labelling of fee-charging ATMs, is also calling for the entire ATM industry to adopt unambiguous, "at a glance" green or red signage stating whether consumers will be charged for using a cash machine.
Nationwide says research conducted by Marketing Sciences has found that 97% of consumers back the introduction of green or red signs on ATMs.
Stuart Bernau, Nationwide's executive director, says: "The industry has been dragging its heels over providing real clarity for consumers regarding cash machine charges. Consequently, Nationwide is taking action by implementing a straightforward solution to counter consumer confusion.
"Green and red signs, which are visible at-a-glance, will be instantly recognisable and their introduction is supported by an overwhelming majority of people."
Earlier this year MPs said that fee-charging ATMS should display clearer warning labels that are visible from a distance and recommended that the amount of the charge should be clearly indicated on external signage and any signs that advertise the ATM. A larger minimum font size should also be set for these warnings so the sign is visible from a distance.
Cash machine network Link introduced tougher rules on signage in July which will see ATM operators fined or disconnected from its network for non-compliance.
The move comes after independent ATM operator Cardpoint released a bullish trading update saying it would meet profit forecasts after converting 275 of the 816 free machines acquired from HBOS to its fee-charging model.
Mark Mills, CEO, Cardpoint, says: "The profit on each of these 275 machines, once converted to charging, has been higher than anticipated due to both higher retention and charging rates with excellent future visibility."
In addition to the 275 charging machines, Cardpoint says it will continue to operate around 300 non charging units from the HBOS acquisition, but may switch them to its fee-charging model at a later date.
Cardpoint warned in May that full year profits would be lower than expected due to delays in the conversion of its acquired HBOS cash machines. But Mills says tthe firm is now back on track.
Furthermore, Cardpoint says its acquisition of rival ATM operator Moneybox, is costing it considerably less than expected, with a final figure of around £52m compared to £76.6m.