Link vows to protect free access to cash on every UK high street

Link vows to protect free access to cash on every UK high street

UK ATM network Link has promised to ensure that every high street in the country will have free access to a cash machine.

ATMs have been disappearing from Britain's high streets as usage drops thanks to people ditching cash in favour of contactless cards and mobile banking services.

The closures have led to a rowdy debate about the consequences for a disenfranchised segment of the populace - estimated to comprise eight million individuals - who would struggle to cope in a cashless society.

In March, the independent Access to Cash Review said the UK is not ready to go cashless and set out a series of measures necessary to ensure no one is left behind as the country moves towards a digital society.

Industry-owned Link has now set out plans to placate authorities worried about the removal of ATMs. The network says that if any high street is threatened with the loss of an ATM or Post Office, it will step in to ensure that a machine is made available and paid for with funding from all the UK’s main banks and building societies.

In addition, Link will run a pilot that sees it directly commission free-to-use ATMs in communities with poor access to cash. Battle, in East Sussex, Bungay, in Suffolk, Hill Top in Nuneaton, Tywyn in Wales, and Durness in Scotland will get machines in the next few months.

John Howells, CEO, Link, says: "Today’s action will protect consumers whilst much needed industry reforms to move to a more sustainable utility infrastructure take place."

Payment Systems Regulator co-MD Chris Hemsley says the watchdog is pleased with Link's steps but adds: "We look forward to understanding further details about how Link's pilot scheme will support local communities to be involved in its decisions on where cash machines are most needed."

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