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LINK moves to secure future of free ATMs

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

by LINK Scheme Ltd

LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, has today announced a series of measures designed to maintain and rebalance the UK’s ATM network – shifting incentives from deploying ATMs in city centres to rural and less-affluent communities.

- Five per cent reduction in the interchange rate from 1st July 2018

- Down c.1p per withdrawal to c.24p

- First of four annual reductions of five per cent – each subject to further review

- No change for free ATMs one kilometre or more from the next free ATM

- Tripling of financial inclusion subsidy – from 10p up to 30p – for ATMs in areas with poor cash-access

The main changes are:

A phased reduction in interchange (the fee card issuers pay ATM operators) beginning with a 5% (around 1p) reduction from 1st July 2018.  The position will then be reviewed annually taking into account the impact on consumers. 

All ATMs one kilometre or more from the next free ATM will be exempt from any reductions in interchange. 

An enhanced subsidy of up to 30p (tripling the current 10p) will be paid wherever needed to ensure that free ATMs remain in areas that could not otherwise sustain them.

LINK will do whatever it takes to retain free access to cash for all communities. It will publicly monitor the whole country; report on free ATM availability; and highlight any areas where free ATM availability is lost. It will then use the strengthened Financial Inclusion Programme to ensure that all communities retain free access to cash. 

LINK’s decision is in response to new data which showed the current incentives were driving ATM deployers to focus on city centres - 80% of free-to-use ATM are now within 300m of another free-to-use machine. LINK - a not-for profit company - believes new incentives are needed to strengthen and indeed increase the geographical coverage of ATMs across the UK.

John Howells, Chief Executive of LINK said: “LINK is committed to protecting free access to cash. The UK has a near record number of ATMs, yet the recent growth has led to the majority of these being placed in busy areas where there simply is no need for a new ATM. The combination of a reduction of the interchange, with the significant strengthening of the Financial Inclusion Programme, will begin to rebalance the network, making sure we protect and install new ATMs in locations that really need them.”

Tracey Graham, Independent Chair of the LINK Consumer Council added: “I am very pleased to see LINK is significantly strengthening its Financial Inclusion Programme.  This will help protect existing ATMs and ensure consumers in remote and rural areas will still get access to the cash they need.  The Consumer Council will continue to provide scrutiny and advice to the LINK Board on the vital importance of maintaining free access to cash.”

 

For further information see links below

Detailed LINK Announcement

LINK Board Decision and Impact Assessment

Summary of Consultation Responses

Independent KPMG Impact Assessment

Impact Assessment from Europe Economics commissioned and published by the Payment Systems Regulator

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