Consumer champion Which? is calling for regulatory intervention to halt the closure of cash machines across the UK as banks and convenience stores re-assess the commercial viability of their networks under a new charging model which takes effect next week.
UK ATM operator Link is introducing the first of a four-step phased reduction in the interchange rates charged to banks every time a customers uses a non-branch machine at another bank.
Which? says the imminent arrival of the new structure has led to an acceleration in ATM closures across the UK, with 300 cash machines disappearing off the high street every month.
The consumer group arrived at the figure by analysing data from Link to track cashpoint numbers from November 2017 up until April 2018. It claims that almost 1500 machines closed during this period - marking a near six-fold increase from a steady rate of fewer than 50 closures a month since 2015.
Link disputes the numbers, insisting that "during this period the number of free-to-use ATMs actually increased".
Undeterred, Which? is calling on the Payment Systems Regulator to intervene and halt the cuts until a thorough analysis of the impact on communities is conducted.
Harry Rose, Which? Money Editor, says: “The impact of these cuts is already clear - with machines closing at a frightening pace. The regulator must act now to stop further closures and ensure that consumers aren’t suddenly stripped of their access to cash.”