LINK announces a new corporate structure, separating its ATM Scheme, which governs the UK cash machine network, from the LINK infrastructure company, a commercial organisation which provides switching and network services that connect members of the ATM Scheme.
The new structure follows a unanimous decision by LINK’s members and owners, including all the UK's major retail banks and building societies, to reform LINK's corporate structure to enhance innovation and facilitate competition in the UK payments industry. the separation of the LINK ATM Scheme from the infrastructure company, allowing the Scheme to prioritise Member and self-regulatory issues, whilst the infrastructure company focuses on commercial operations and technological innovation;the introduction of a smaller, more streamlined board for the company, including more independent directors in addition to shareholder directors appointed by the banks and building societies that own LINK;a more open ownership structure.
LINK's plans were endorsed in an OFT-chaired Working Group earlier this year and the reforms deliver on recommendations made by the OFT Payment Systems Task Force (PST). These include:
Over the past decade LINK's activities have diversified to include:the provision through mobile phones of banking services;mobile phone top-ups at cash machines;providing solutions for payments processing, ATM acquiring and card issuing through its outsourcing division, Avantra;enabling free-of-charge cash withdrawals over Post Office counters; and "branch-sharing" between financial institutions.
In November 2005, LINK, working with Voca, also won the contract to provide the core part of a new "faster payments" service that will allow consumers to make bank payments in real time, rather than through the current 3-day clearing process. Development is well underway to meet the November 2007 implementation date.
John Hardy, Chief Executive Officer, LINK Interchange Network Limited, commented: "I am delighted that LINK's members and owners have unanimously agreed these latest reforms that will further encourage innovation, and underline LINK's position as a key strategic asset for the UK banking industry."
Edwin Latter, Director of the LINK ATM Scheme, said, "The OFT and Treasury endorsed LINK's innovative plans for the Scheme's governance, including mechanisms for consumer views to be included in the decision-making process. This is already allowing consumer representatives to contribute directly to the LINK Scheme's work to improve transparency of charges at cash machines."