A decision by Link, the U.K.'s largest ATM network provider, means that 1 in 5 ATMs will disappear from Britain's high streets within four years, according to a report by The Telegraph, a British publication.
Link has decided that surcharge fees paid by banks should take a 5 percent per year cut in each of the next four years.
The end result — a 20 percent slashing of fees — is certain to have a serious impact on millions of cardholders who will see up to 10,000 of the country's ATMs removed, ATMIA Europe Executive Ron Delnevo told The Telegraph.
"This will be catastrophic for consumers," Delnevo said. "But cash point providers' revenue will go down to the point where they will struggle to break even, meaning they will be forced to close. It will be worse in rural areas. It's very serious."
On the other side of the argument, Link Chief Executive John Howells said that with fewer people using cash, there were simply too many ATMs around.
Bank of England data indicates that 2.7 million residents of the U.K., including many of the elderly people, depend heavily upon cash for day-to-day payments.
Concerned about cash access has led members of the government to suggest a formal investigation into the Link decision, the report said.