Which? raises alarm over ATM network charges

Which? raises alarm over ATM network charges

Britain’s free to use ATM network is on course to be "decimated" in the coming months unless urgent action is taken to protect access to cash, new research from Which? reveals.

New figures obtained by the consumer champion show fees of at least 95p per withdrawal were imposed on 1700 non-bank operated machines between January and March this year, with 1250 of these conversions taking place in March alone.

Most of the ATMs affected are operated by Cardtronics - the UK’s biggest cashpoint operator - which has warned it is likely to convert a further thousand machines to charge fees in the coming months.

Notemachine, another major cashpoint provider, has cautioned that it is considering converting up to 4000 machines in its 7,000-strong network to charge fees due to changes in how Britain’s biggest network of ATMs is funded.

If these plans go ahead, Britain stands to lose more than one in 10 of its free cashpoints in a matter of months, says Which?.

The consumer group is concerned that the cost of cash withdrawals has been shifted from banks to consumers, with poor and vulnerable people - who are most reliant on cash to pay for goods and services - hardest hit by the change.

The urgency of the problem was reinforced by the recent Access to Cash Review, chaired by former Financial Ombudsman boss Natalie Ceeney, which reported that the UK’s cash infrastructure was “on the verge of collapse”.

The consumer champion is calling on Government to appoint a regulator to protect consumers and businesses and properly manage the cash landscape to ensure no-one is denied their ability to access cash.

Gareth Shaw, Head of Money, Which?, says: “Communities are being stripped of free access to cash at an alarming rate that could hit the most vulnerable in our society the hardest, while denying millions of people free withdrawals.

“A regulator is desperately needed to get a grip of these rapid changes across the cash landscape and ensure all those still reliant on this important payment method aren’t suddenly shut out from accessing the cash they need in their daily lives."

Comments: (3)

Mike Smith
Mike Smith - Orthanc Insight - London 01 May, 2019, 09:34Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Without taking sides on the interchange debate, you don’t have to go back many years to when there were 35k free machines and very few complaints. With cash declining has anyone actually considered how many free ATMs is the right number?
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 01 May, 2019, 12:01Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If Which? were to start a petition on Change.org, I'd sign it! 

Ron Delnevo
Ron Delnevo - UK Cash Supply Alliance - Leatherhead 02 May, 2019, 03:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes We need to stop talking about cash as if it is a minority interest. The case for cash is NOT about a few million people - less than 5% of the population - who only use this payment method. The real issue is that everyone in the UK has the right to Payment Choice, a right to decide for themselves which payment method meets their personal requirements. An attempt is being made to force cash off the Payment Choice menu available to the British public. It must NOT be allowed to succeed. The government needs to act, since their appointed regulators can’t even talk a good game, let alone take decisive action. Government intervention is needed as follows, with urgent legislation as necessary to force outcomes: * LINK must return to a cost-based ATM interchange. Arbitrary cuts which render ATM services uneconomic to provide are UNACCEPTABLE. * LINK must have a statutory obligation to guarantee free access to ATM cash in every community. Let’s stop the pretence there are better ways to deliver cash; there are NOT. * oblige businesses to accept cash payments for in-person transactions. There you have it. Three steps needed to ensure that the UK public - ALL of us - can continue to have cash as a Payment Choice. The time for committees, reports and debate is over! Action is required NOW, in 2019!