The days of free ATMs in the UK may be coming to a close as LINK proposes a drop in interchange fees.
LINK, the UK’s largest ATM network with around 70,000 machines (55,000 of which are free) in the market, has propositioned a 20% reduction in interchange rates over the next four years – from 25p to 20p.
According to LINK, this is to “give ATM operators the opportunity to reduce their costs through efficiencies and minimise any reduction in ATM numbers”.
LINK’s CEO John Howells commented: “LINK is committed to maintaining an extensive network of free-to-use cash machines. Free access to cash is vital for UK consumers and LINK intends to maintain this for many years to come.”
However, this is may not be the case as a lower interchange fee could cause free ATMs to become unprofitable, bringing forward a case to shutter them.
The ATM Industry Association believed that this could have the opposite effect and put free ATMs in jeopardy.
Ron Delnevo, Executive Director Europe of the ATM Industry Association, said: “Make no mistake, the proposed reductions in LINK Interchange may well lead to a vast reduction in free access to cash for British citizens and businesses. Any money saved by a tiny number of banks, which some estimates put at tens of millions of pounds each year, will effectively be at the expense of already hard pressed consumers. This when ATM costs in the UK are already amongst the lowest in the world.
“We already have thousands of bank branch deserts in the UK. The proposals for interchange reduction are likely to create ATM deserts, where communities will wither because there is no local convenient access to cash and other financial services.
“The regulators and the Government need to step in immediately to stop a potentially catastrophic situation developing.”
The views of LINK Members and the LINK Consumer Council are being sought by 30 November 2017 and it is expected that the Board’s final decision will be published by 31 January 2018 and implemented by 1 April 2018.