On October 2, LINK, announced the launch of a new Community Access to Cash Delivery Fund so consumers can request a free ATM when it’s needed. Local communities apply through their MP, local council, or request help directly from LINK. The criteria to access the funding include distance to nearest free ATM, availability of a Post Office, site security and that there is a suitable location. LINK will fund the new ATM directly.
This builds on LINK’s commitment to protect free access to cash for every high street in the UK. New ATMs will be funded by a levy on LINK’s bank and building society members. LINK has set up a dedicated website for applications and help.
Less than a month later over 100 applications for new ATMs were received. The requests have come from every corner of the country, with isolated rural communities, deprived urban areas and small towns all getting in touch. According to the BBC, the initial funding will only cover 50 new ATMs.
John Howells, LINK CEO said “It’s great that we’ve had so much interest so far. Many of the applications show there are locations around the country where there is a cash access problem. We’ve already visited 10 of these locations and will be working hard to listen to every community that has got in touch.
The move comes amid widespread concern about the closure of bank branches and removal of ATMs, turning some areas into cash deserts, causing difficulties for vulnerable people and small businesses. The total number of ATMs continues to fall month-on-month with an overall drop of 1,714 machines between January and September 2019. In 2018, there were 2.48 billion cash withdrawals with a total of £193 billion of cash taken out.
Independent ATM Deployers say the unilateral cut of ATM interchange fees – the fees that the card-issuing bank pays to the ATM operator – resulted in ATM becoming unprofitable and either being removed or turned into fee-charging machines .
In France, the number of ATMs has dropped by 5.3% between 2015 and 2018, according to the Banque de France. Banks have been discussing within the interbank organisation Cartes Bancaires which manages the domestic card scheme and are proposing to increase the ATM interchange fee from 57 cents to €1 in order to better reflect the actual costs of operating an ATM. Also, Cash management Company Brink’s is lauching a new solution whereby it installs and operates an ATM and charges a fee to the municipality. The cost is estimated at €1,500 per month but can be lower depending on the number of withdrawals.