Cashless under review as 300 ATMs close per month

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ATM network provider Link has launched an independent review into the effect of a cashless society on communities and small businesses, but many in the amusements industry are already feeling the crunch from cash machine closures.

A review into how Britain’s increasingly cashless society is affecting communities and small businesses has been commissioned by ATM network provider Link, with the company being held partially responsible for a recent acceleration of cash machine closures.

Led by former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service Natalie Ceeney, the Access to Cash Review will be independent and will aim to bring together bodies such as Age UK, Toynbee Hall and Fairer Finance, as well as industry experts.

Furthermore, anyone with an interest in cash – from community resentatives to industry trade bodies – will have six months to contribute through workshops and a call to evidence.

“The rise of contactless and digital payments has changed the relationship between cash and consumers,” explained Ceeney. “Many people in the UK have already made a shift to paying for most things digitally, but at the same time, there are between two to three million people across the UK who are entirely reliant on cash.

“Over the next decade and beyond, we will see significant changes driven by technology, and we need to ensure that we consider now how these will affect different segments of society, and plan so that no-one is left behind.

“The Access to Cash Review’s main objective is to identify what is needed by way of an effective and inclusive cash access service that meets the needs of all consumers, regardless of their personal circumstances.

Link’s review will look at the impact of cashless technologies over the next five to 15 years,and will aim to predict the future infrastructure that will be necessary to support consumers’ needs. In the meantime, the company is being partially blamed by many for the recent acceleration of ATM closures due to its decision to reduce the interchange rate banks have to pay ATM operators upon withdrawal.

The first reduction took effect on July 1 and a second reduction will take place on January 1 2019, however it is believed many ATM operators made the decision to remove their cash machine when the reductions were initially announced. Consumer groupWhich? analysed data from November 2017 up until April this year,revealing that almost 1,500 machines closed during this period – a six-fold increase from the steady rate of fewer than 50 closures a month since 2015.

Such closures are already having an effect on the amusements industry – especially in smaller seaside resorts – where many FEC operators are finding themselves offering one of the last few ATMs in town. And this trend will only gain further momentum as both government and big business continue to wage war on cash,resulting in higher costs forATM operation,and FECs being used as the town bank. That is, unless the DCMS wakes up from its prohibition mindset on card payments,and allows FECs to enter the 21st century.


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