Mastercard will pay shops to dispense cash to customers. From April 2020, local shops and businesses will earn a fee of 12 pence every time customers request cashback from the till in association with a purchase on a MasterCard debit card.
The initiative is welcomed by consumer association Which?, at a time when access to cash in the UK is threatened by bank and ATM closures. Which? has revealed that a third of all bank and building society branches were closed down in the past five years. The UK has also seen a dramatic drop in the number of ATMs – from over 70,000 units in 2015 to 62,000 in 2018 – prompting consumer groups, lobbyists and organisations to take action. LINK, the UK’s largest ATM network, has announced that it will directly commission free-to-use ATMs in communities with poor access to cash.
Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard in the UK, Ireland, Nordics and Baltics comments: “By leading this new cash back initiative we aim to encourage more shops to offer their customers the option of cash back at the point of sale. This isn’t a replacement for ATMs, but if we can add to the number of outlets where people can access cash, especially in areas without an ATM, it will be a valuable addition to the community for both consumers and local businesses.”
Why is Mastercard promoting access to cash ?
This may seem like a surprising move for a company which is better known for waging a war on cash.
But John Detrixhe from Quartz highlights several reasons why Mastercard is taking this initiative :
According to Ron Delnevo, executive director of ATMIA, if consumers get their cash from a shop instead of an ATM, this could increase the profit pressure on the UK’s ATM network, which is already shrinking.