Research by the U.K. watchdog organization Which has identified more than 200 communities in Britain with poor ATM access — or none at all — and says the problem could be further aggravated by proposed interchange fee cuts that are likely to reduce the number of ATMs across the country.
Link is proposing to reduce fees paid by banks to independent ATM operators by 20 percent, which could lead to "mass closures" of free-to-use ATM machines across Britain, the organization said in a press release.
Which said it analyzed Link data on 70,000 cash machines in the U.K. and found that 123 postal districts with a combined population of 110,935 residents did not appear to have a single ATM. An additional 116 postal districts appeared to have just one ATM. Of these, 37 charge the user a transaction fee.
Which has asked the Payment Systems Regulator to conduct an urgent review to fully evaluate the impact that Link's fee changes could have on consumers, and look into alternative options to protect consumers.
"These proposals could place a strain on communities across the U.K. that are already struggling to access the cash they need following mass bank closures," Which money expert Gareth Shaw said in the release. "The financial regulator must intervene to avoid this situation getting worse."
According to Which, the U.K. has a total of 70,077 ATMs, of which 20 percent (14,249) imposed a surcharge. Only 2 percent of the cash withdrawn from ATMs in 2016 was subject to a fee.