At the beginning of this year it was announced that a number of banks had become disillusioned with the network of LINK ATMs, a group who have connected 70,000 cash machines across the UK.
The service, which allows card holders that are apart of the LINK network to withdraw cash free of charge, is said to cost banks around £1 billion per year to run, with charges coming to approximately 25p per withdrawal. To counter the cost for this service the motion to introduce a service charge is being discussed. Although no official levy fee has been disclosed the average cost of ATM charges in the UK stand at £1.70.
In order to tackle this issue, group members will be looking for a way to continue the sustainability of the scheme. Users of the service, as well as regulators and the government have to wait until an undisclosed date later this year to hear further details on the report and where this will lead the British public.
Personally, if a standard fee was to be introduced I think it’d be a travesty for the British public and for cash as a means for payments. Being a fairly young adult I have gravitated towards using digital payments over cash, however, my age group makes up but a fraction of the population. I am lucky enough to be able to pay for the services I use, on the whole, digitally, with the exception being the barbers and certain corner shops. While I think moving towards digital is an excellent idea, I do not believe the alienation of other age groups to be appropriate nor in the best interest of the public.
The idea for paying to use one’s own money seems incredibly cruel. People put their money into a bank with the comfort that it’ll be protected and easy to access. With the addition of interest rates being so low, there is little incentive to move bank to many people and without an interest rate high enough to merit, customers will essentially be making a loss every time they dare to use their cash. If implemented, paying for being able to use your own money sidelines poorer persons who don’t have enough in their bank accounts to justify the charge, and it isolates smaller towns and villages where only one ATM may be accessible.
With 54,000 ATMs in the UK currently being free to use, if the charge were to be implemented it would be directly affected. With around 8,000 being potential targets for removal or fees this could have a dramatic affect on rural areas across the UK.
Ron Delveno from the ATM Industry Association has stated that he fears such a fee would lead to areas of the UK becoming “cash deserts”. These cash baron areas and the notion that a lot of people would stop using ATMs altogether would inevitably see a number of ATMs being removed, making cash even less accessible to the public. For Ron Delveno he feels “we need a solution that is fair to all the parties and it needs to be sustainable. We don’t want to be doing this every year. We need a long-term solution.”
For those who either can’t or won’t use digital payment methods in their everyday lives the easiest way around this charge would be to take advantage of the cashback service provided by supermarkets, though this has a cap of £50.
Written by Dylan Jones, Fintech Finance