/ Money

Save our cashpoints: will you support our campaign?  

Despite our calls for the Payment Systems Regulator to intervene, Link’s proposal to reduce its interchange fee have simply been waved through. This could see thousands of free cashpoints across the UK shut down. That’s why today we’re launching the Save our cashpoints campaign. 

On Wednesday, the UK’s largest cashpoint network, Link announced that it will go ahead with plans to cut its interchange fee by 20% over the next five years.

This reduction would see the fee, which banks pay each time one of their customers uses a free-to-use cashpoint, drop from around 25p to 20p per transaction. This could mean thousands of free-to-use cashpoints across the country become no longer financially viable. And this could lead to them being closed down altogether.

Our evidence shows that many people still rely on free-to-use cashpoints to access their money. And with more than two million people in the UK almost entirely reliant on cash, we think it is vital that they can access their money easily and free of charge.

Research from Which? and others from across the industry have made clear the extent of the potential impact on consumers. Yet this seems to have been largely ignored by Link throughout the process.

The campaign

Link has tried to combat the detrimental impact its changes could have on the free-to-use network through its Financial Inclusion programme – including a commitment to maintaining free-to-use cashpoints in remote areas.

However, it is worryingly clear that commercial pressure from its members, and the big banks in particular, means that Link simply can’t guarantee consumers will be adequately protected or that specific cashpoints will remain open.

With many parts of the country already reeling from local bank branch closures, we think the Payments Systems Regulator (PSR) has an obvious and urgent responsibility to step in and ensure consumers’ free access to their own money is protected.

That’s why today we, along with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), are launching the Save our cashpoints campaign – to protect free access to cash. It’s unacceptable that the PSR is allowing Link to make a decision that could impact millions of consumers without conducting a review of its own.

What do you think? Are cashpoints a thing of the past or do you share our view and think the PSR should step to protect free-to-use cashpoints.


I very rarely use my credit/debit cards. For purchases of less than £10 I always use cash. I don’t intend to change any time soon. Irritates me when I see somebody paying for goods of say 99p with a card!

Mr.G.Vincenzo says:
7 February 2018

It’s all those greedy bank directors n fat cats. ..
They can’t stop robbing you ..any little penny pinches …
It’s like the supermarkets. When one day put up prices..
One day they lower prices..and next day they treble the prices up..
It’s never stopping the government Its in it to….
I have notice through the years when a big change events ,
the poor we get .. and the Riches fatcats get richer
I wished people stop voting for the right govement that don’t keep they promised.

Sheelagh Galpin says:
7 February 2018

Not all of us want to use cards to pay for everything especially the elderly. It is bad enough with what is happening to more self service tils! I don’t wish for everything to end up online or these big out of town centres. To me it seems everything is heading towards this online robotic world! 🙁

Luke says:
7 February 2018

Those of us who are hard working and those of us who are in less fortunate positions should not have to pay to get access to something that is theirs, I go to work, pay tax, NI etc. Why should I have to pay more to be able to hold the paper (or now plastic) that I earned in my hands! We are slowly loosing freedom in our country and I am happy that organisations like Which give us a voice!

There is a report on the effect of possible decommissioning of “at-risk” ATMs. The link is :

A part of the analysis says:
We find that less than 1.5 per cent of the total residential or working population would likely be affected by the predicted closures (on an incremental cost basis), with a much lower percentage if the focus is on at-risk ATMs based on those unable to cover the costs of filling the site with cash. Neither does the evidence suggest that vulnerable populations would be disproportionately affected. In fact, less than 0.5 per cent of the total elderly population or those living in deprived areas would likely be affected by the closure of isolated at-risk ATMs.

Probably worth looking through the whole report. I presume Which? have a copy and may comment?

These small percentages represent a very large number of people, and we can add the number disadvantaged by recent removal of ATMs.

I intend to continue to support retention of ATMs.

Don’t you think other options to withdraw cash should be considered when ATMs are not economically viable? Or should we exclude anything other than a cash machine?

ATMs can provide an attraction to business in shops and if self fill help reduce the shops bank charges for handling cash (apparently).

Incidentally, how many people currently are not within convenient distance of an ATM? It would be useful to see a distribution of ATMs and population. But they might be nearer another potential source of cash.

P6: Additional at-risk ATMs with falls in both interchange fee and volume

……………………………………………………………….Avoidable costs …….Incremental costs
20% fall in interchange fees only……………….. 137 (0.4%) …………..728 (2.0%)
10% fall in volume only ………………………………14 (0.04%)………….. 83 (0.2%)
20% fall in interchange fees
and 10% fall in volume ………………………………166 (0.5%) ……………877 (2.5%)
Extra sites at risk in low-volume scenario
because interchange fees fall ……………………..152 (0.4%) …………..794 (2.2%)
Source: Europe Economics’ analysis. Percentages in brackets represent the percentage of all FtU non-branch ATMs affected.

On the face of it these possible figures seem very different from others. And they are possibles, not certainties.

I suggest that the first priority should be to look at relocating existing ATMs from where they can be shown to be surplus to need. Doing this could help the shops, as you suggest.

We have seen closures of ATMs, banks and Post Offices, seemingly without any input from the local population. Without assurance that other sources of cash will be retained it would be foolhardy to sit back and allow further ATMs to be removed.

I don’t think it is necessarily about relocating an ATM if the site where it might go is uneconomic. They cost money to service. Perhaps there are sites where it is regarded as socially beneficial and the local authority could then provide the ATMs as an independent operator.

In the 1960’s/1970’s when the majority of us were paid by cash in our weekly pay packages. Current bank accounts, and cheque writing were mainly the preserve of the middle, and monied classes?
There was an enormous dedicated effort by the banks, supported by the government of the day, even the cinema’s, and advertising hoardings, to persuade working adults to forgo waiting at the cashiers office for their hard earned cash. Issues like bank robberies, wage snatches, and just the sheer inconvenience of counting and moving masses of money (huge job losses have resulted since) were some of the positives claimed for this then radical change? The promise however always were how more convenient (what about bank closures, and projected till closures) and safe, secure banking (data theft, scamming, easily hacked systems, to name but a few) have persistently worried many of us. Some of us feel out of control, unable to protect what little we have, against these massive impersonal conglomerates.On their part, they listen to us most carefully (they say) – then try to deny us the legal right to withdraw our cash; especially when in the wall of the recently boarded up local bank? So where has this much vaunted convenience, or the safety of the system so long promised, got us the ordinary citizen, today?

My 70yrold mum+I live in Carryduff ni we had 2 banks they were closed we only have 1 cash point +1 shop here now we’ve a high %of pensioners and disabled that live here we have 1 post office in the shop which they want to close down does the government expect us to eat grass seeing that if the atm goes thats what will happen we don’t all have cars I’m 39 going blind I cant drive nor can my mum

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Greg says:
7 February 2018

This incremental social engineering is being driven by certain power players and international corporations in order to take us to a cashless society. Cash can be used for private transactions without the all knowing big brother sticking its nose in. Cash is private and privacy is freedom. If we loose our privacy, we loose our freedom. We owe it future generations to protect the freedom we enjoy today. Protecting our access to cash is one small step in the fight to preserve this and help the most vulnerable in our society today.

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This is an extract from an article in a local community magazine under the heading “Has your Local Bank Closed Down? Dealing with Branch Closures

“Day-to-Day Banking at Post Office Branches: A further development that will help you if you’re missing your local bank branch is the new partnership between the banking industry and the post office. You can now carry out day-to-day banking transactions at your local Post Office such as depositing and withdrawing cash, paying in cheques and checking your balance. Although some of these services were previously available to a limited number of customers, the new arrangement allows 99% of personal high street banking customers,and 95% of small businesses, to use Post Offices branches for their day-to-day banking needs.”

The article had also covered telephone, internet and mobile banking [not that they can provide cash], new banks that are expanding their networks [like Handelsbanken and Metro Bank], mobile branch banking [Lloyds Bank and G4S are operating ‘banks on wheels’], and third party authorisation.

Thanks for this encouraging news, John. I failed to find this text online but there are various reports from Jan 2017 that banks are working with the Post Office, so that the latter can provide banking services: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-4151458/Post-Office-agrees-deal-banking-presence-UK.html Obviously this will not help where communities have lost their Post Office or will do so in future, but it’s encouraging to learn of cooperation.

The roll-out of Post Office mobile branches [as mentioned by Beryl elsewhere] will help fill some of the gaps I hope and if they are successful there could be more of them.

Although the changes to the Post Office network [including the closure of many Crown Offices] have been widely criticised they have led to the introduction of a cohort of more entrepreneurial self-employed post office service providers who have refitted their shops to improve the PO counter, extended their opening hours, opened on Sundays, started to offer a wider range of services, and in some cases opened additional outlets. Liberated from the dead hand of the Post Office bureaucracy they have pioneered new ways of meeting their communities’ needs and I am sure they will not let their customers go without a way of getting cash as it is in their commercial interest.

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Unfortunately, mistakenly part of the ATM Convo took place in The Lobby. I reported there a couple of days ago:

We need to think of practical and sensible solutions. Perhaps their should be a travelling post office that visits communities once a week and offers basic services, including cash withdrawal. Maybe with basic foodstuffs where no local village store exists.

Having just penned this I’ve found:

“The UK’s Post Office has rolled out a new fleet of mobile post offices providing walk-in postal services on wheels for customers.

The 40 vehicles will serve 250 locations every week in rural areas across the UK.

The mobile branches are operated by subpostmasters, who will be able to bring all of the services that their core branches offer to more isolated areas in the UK.

The new vehicles are Mercedes Sprinter vans and feature the added facility of an accessibility lift. Services offered via the vans include postage of letters and parcels, insurance, savings, and personal banking such as cash withdrawals.

The vehicles are being deployed to rural areas in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and will cover half a million miles between them over the next 12 months – the equivalent of driving along the Equator around the earth 20 times.”

As far as I know the Post office has for some time given access to bank accounts:
https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-banking-services#Advanced Payment Solutions services available at Post Office%C2%AE branches

Branch Banking – Personal Accounts
Access your high street bank account at any of our 11,500 Post Office branches
A free service to pay in, withdraw and collect cash

They list 28 banks for which services are offered. Only two do not allow the withdrawal of cash – CAF and Metro.

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duncan, a separate issue but they would presumably open a bank account but still be able to access it through the post office.

Generally you need a debit card and PIN to access your account.

Again, Duncan, in respect of the Post Office’s mobile post office service, you only see the downsides. Why should the service operate as badly as the bank’s? Is there any evidence that what you are saying is actually happening with the mobile post offices?

I agree that such a service might not be as convenient as they would like for some people, but it might be a lot more convenient than the present situation. And, as I have asked elsewhere, how much cash do people actually need [in the sense that they could not possibly manage without] in a given period? People seem to be able to get to the doctor’s or the chiropodist’s or the fish & chip van at a given time.

Perhaps you would like to set out a sensible and viable alternative.

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Duncan, I was asking whether there was any evidence that the new mobile post offices operate as inconveniently as you say the mobile banks are operating. I have no quibble with you over the way the banks conduct their affairs.

I am not trying to justify the removal of ATM’s but I recognise the economic realities they have faced. I appreciate that the run-down of retail banking has been the consequence of banking imprudence and manipulation of the money markets. The price of keeping all our banks afloat has been the wholesale disposal of assets – and who would argue that we didn’t need to keep the banks afloat? But other pressures have also had a major impact as already explained by Wavechange and Malcolm. I try to live in the real world, Duncan, and sometimes think it is terrible, but fantasies are not the alternative. We are where we are. What is your sensible and viable remedy for the present situation?

I subscribe to Beryl’s outlook as set out in her comment here –

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I don’t think anyone has yet suggested that ATMs should be introduced where they never existed, though Duncan makes a reasonable case above. We have learned that in some urban areas there are ‘surplus’ ATMs and it would be interesting to know about the practicalities of disposing of them rather than getting rid of more that serve small communities.

Is there evidence that retention of ATMs in rural areas would prevent our banks from continuing as viable companies?

Can we really expect Post Offices, shops, pubs, etc. to take over cash distribution from banks without financial reward?

Post Offices already do cash distribution for 26 banks. They will, no doubt, be rewarded by the banks for the service just as they fund ATMs. Shops and maybe pubs are said to benefit from ATMs. As well as getting a transaction and/or site rental fee they bring custom to the premises and, if self fill, reduce the amount of cash banking, and the costs, the shop has to do.

Neither of us has the details, nor do we know about how Post Offices would cope with increased demands for cash while maintaining those services that other companies cannot deliver (other than selling stamps).

The Post Office has introduced a service that will be of use to many. I don’t think that is in doubt. Why, then, should we take a negative view of its ability to provide that service? I often think we need to adopt a more “how can we do it” attitude rather than a “why it can’t work”. At least, until proved otherwise. Just like the assumption we must be going to lose vast numbers of ATMs triggered by a change in the way LINK is dealing with payment charges.

I did suggest in this conversation on 8 February that the rationalisation of ATM’s could lead to filling gaps in rural areas. See –

I went on to say that “what is not easy to gauge is the latent demand for cash machines in an area without one and how people meet their cash needs. It needs to be borne in mind that every new installation in remote areas will lead to a transfer of custom from somewhere else. That is not a reason for not adding more machines but is a warning that sometimes there are unintended consequences.”

I think what Duncan has proposed is the right way forward so that each cluster of settlements has at least one free-to-use cash machine. Once people have the facility within reasonable reach I hope they would support it and get their cash locally and not go into town for it.

This would all depend on a ‘cost neutral’ approach to the rationalisation so that savings accruing from the reduction of provision in town centres are applied to meeting the needs in isolated places.

I have no problem with rationalisation providing that the needs of communities are met. It would concern me that the closure of the only ATM could be followed by the closure of the Post Office or other source of cash, that’s not making adequate provision. I appreciate that some have chosen to live in areas devoid of facilities, but this is different from having them withdrawn. Ian said: “I do believe companies should not be free simply to drop services because it’s become a bit expensive to run them.” That’s my view.

I tend to agree, but it begs the question as to what services should be under some sort of control and what should be the catchment for each service. If a village shop closes because of the retirement of the shopkeeper, as is so often the case, what can realistically be done to maintain the services provided? If it closes because the potential customers don’t use it sufficiently to sustain it in the face of competition from the nearest town’s facilities and supermarkets what then? I seriously doubt that we can legislate for the retention of services unless there is proven demand.

It would be helpful to know how many users need to use an ATM each week to make it viable assuming an average £50 withdrawal. If current use made it marginal what would the fee need to be to keep it going? That will be heavily dependent on the elasticity of demand based as much on geography and mileage as anything else.

I still remain unsure whether the Payment Systems Regulator [or any other authority] has the power to order a bank to provide, or not to close, an automated teller machine. Does anybody know?

I cannot find anything that suggests PSR has this authority.

PSR powers

The PSR has a range of strong regulatory and competition powers. We can:

> give directions to take action and set standards
> impose requirements regarding system rules
> require operators to provide direct access to payment systems
> require PSPs to provide indirect access to smaller PSPs
> amend agreements relating to payment systems, including fees and charges
> investigate behaviour which isn’t consistent with our directions
> act where we see anti-competitive behaviour, alongside the Competition & Markets Authority

Thanks Wavechange. As I thought.

Malcolm R has queried several times how many people are currently further than one kilometre away from an ATM and has asked how have they been coping. My impression is that a very large number of people are living in small settlements that do not have a cash machine or are anywhere near one. There are something like 660 villages and hamlets in Norfolk and while I cannot claim to know them all I think I can reliably say that nearly all of them have very few facilities at all, not even a shop or a pub in many cases. But the residents of these places do not appear to be starving, or bereft of raiment, or short of a shilling when needed. I am not saying that life in the country is easy or convenient but it isn’t the purgatory that it seems to be made out to be. People go to their nearest superstore for the main shopping and either get some cash back when they pay for their goods or they use the hole-in-the-wall machine to get some money. Housebound people have family, friends or carers who can bring them some cash. There are petrol stations and other outlets with ATM’s. In small close-knit communities people help each other and adapt in order to survive.

However diligently LINK extends the coverage of cash machines to rural areas they will never spread to every little place and it is pointless to demand such extravagant provision which will add enormous costs to the operation of bank accounts. As for proposing that the government should step in and take control of the situation that would surely be a recipe for waste and mismanagement while relieving the banks of any responsibility for efficient operation and piling extra costs onto taxpayers.

I can understand the reluctance of shopkeepers to install ATM’s when almost every week there is a report of a gang using an all-terrain fork-lift vehicle to rip a machine out of the front of a shop but not all these raids are successful and with sensible protective measures it is possible to achieve a safe and secure installation. I am confident that if there is a need for cash someone somewhere will supply it.

We live some miles from the nearest cash dispenser and we live in an area classified as ‘remote’ and mountainous, so when we have snow – as we’ve had four times this winter – those without a good 4×4 simply don’t get out. But folk locally adapt; they store food, like squirrels, and know that not being able to get out will only be infrequent. We also never seem to need cash, I have to admit, as we pay by Apple Pay or contact card but if we did need cash then we’d have to make a journey to get it.

But we choose to live where we do; no one forces us and we’re happy to tolerate the lack of shops. mobile signals and infrequent postal deliveries in return for what we have – magnificent views, beautiful and frequent wildlife, changing seasons that we can see and a lack of people.

In choosing where to live, most people will look at whether the local services meet their needs. The problem arises when important services are removed. I would like to see the views of the community represented when it is planned to change service provision.

I believe you’re right. And we’re capable of walking several miles if needs be. If that changes for either of us, then we might have to move.

Equally, in choosing where to live, older people need to consider their capabilities years ahead. Maybe when they can no longer drive to the doctors, the shops, the bank, for example. If they do not have local family to help then the alternative is to move near the services essential to them.

I agree. None of us know what’s round the corner. A friend’s life has changed since he lost most of his sight in his one good eye a year ago.

What I would like to see is coordination of services to mitigate loss of provision. I have mentioned the possibility of combined bank branches because I have seen this work very successfully. Those who do have access to ATMs deserve reassurance that alternatives such as a Post Office will be retained for the foreseeable future. The comments we have read in this Conversation are not dissimilar to those I heard over the Christmas period from those who have been affected by closure of ATMs.

I agree, Wavechange. Many residents in remote areas have not made a choice to live there in the sense that they could live anywhere they like and were free to pick and choose. Lots of people live where they do out of necessity or due to particular circumstances or because they have always lived there but have now become older or unfit so they can no longer function as once they did.

BT are required to consult local authorities whenever they propose to remove a telephone box so there is a precedent. But, of course, as soon as it was announced that the government intended to make it a requirement that the closure of ATM’s would require consultation many would be switched off in an instant and their vaults emptied. Contingency plans to do so might already have been made now this topic has excited the public’s interest!

Consultation on the withdrawal of cash machines would rarely produce a positive response, in my view, so would it be meaningful or worth while? Has the removal of telephone boxes been curtailed as a result of the need to consult? It would become a case of “when?” not “never!”. Given that LINK has announced its policy to improve the distribution of facilities in under-provided areas it could be that there is nothing to consult on in many areas. I think it would be better to task town and parish councils with surveying the existing provision in their communities and put forward proposals for where it should be strengthened with recommendations of how that could be done. That would be a rational basis for ensuring equitable provision.

To a major extent the economics of each machine must have a bearing on its sustainability. Whether this information could be made available is an interesting question. It would not be difficult for volunteers to spend a few hours watching the activity level at an ATM in terms of the number of users [although they would not know what transactions took place] or CCTV could possibly be used to record movements [subject to legality]. I would not expect the machine operators to release such information publicly. What is not easy to gauge is the latent demand for cash machines in an area without one and how people meet their cash needs. It needs to be borne in mind that every new installation in remote areas will lead to a transfer of custom from somewhere else. That is not a reason for not adding more machines but is a warning that sometimes there are unintended consequences.

Where we differ, John, seems to be regarding economic viability. Obviously the banks need to make a profit but that does not mean that they have to close every ATM that is considered non-viable. Many companies spend a considerable amounts supporting communities. A charity I work for has had money from Tesco, two awards from Aviva and various contributions from local businesses. Some companies sponsor sport and even football teams. I have not looked at what our banks offer but perhaps retaining some ATMs that are not economically viable would be a considerable service to local communities.

I strongly agree with involving town and parish councils and eagerly await the next issue of our parish magazine to see if there is comment about conversion of our Post Office counter into a delicatessen.

The report I referenced https://www.link.co.uk/media/1354/h-documents-uploads-europe-economics-atm-impact-study.pdf deals to some extent with ATM viability, and LINK have proposed an increase in subsidy to ATMs in vulnerable areas. So much is speculation at the moment.

LINK will, I presume, have all the information necessary on transaction volumes at each machine. The operators will have the other costs.

If a council believes a local community must have a particular service it is free to subsidise it – whether a bus service, a community car, or other. The money will come from the community to fund it; why should they object if it is worthwhile? If the banks choose to subsidise a service, that will be paid for by all their customers – the community at large as well, just as we contribute to any of Tescos profits that are dispensed to “good causes”.

Of course ATMs could be sponsored but I would not like my taxes used to support banks, a sector where there has been considerable financial mismanagement. I’m not referring to all banks.

As I see it, LINK has committed to providing machines where they are not economically viable by use of a subsidy. This might not satisfy all desires but is a more conscientious process than that used by the banks.

I believe the rogue element in all this has been the unplanned [and un-consulted on] closure of bank branches which at a stroke has removed hundreds – if not thousands – of ATM’s. The viability of an ATM is on an altogether different scale to maintaining a bank branch yet the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater.

The entire question, I suppose, hinges about what constitutes a service and whether or not a service that has been in operation for, say – 20 years – can or should simply be withdrawn.

I think services which have been provided and have been working reliably and predictably for 20 years or more, and on which individuals depend and which they need should be considered protected.

People often end up weaving their lives around such services, and the withdrawal of those services can have serious repercussions for families, individuals and the community as a whole.

While I don’t rate ATMs as having the same status as, say – water or electricity supplies or the internet or telephone, the removal of which could have catastrophic consequences, I do believe companies should not be free simply to drop services because it’s become a bit expensive to run them.

We have this commitment in writing now, but this is late in the day for those who have already lost their local service. As you say, branch closure is a major factor.

Bank branch closure is an inevitable consequence of the huge growth in on-line banking. Reduction in cash use is partly due to the growth in card use, and now contactless. Circumstances change. We have to adapt to changed circumstances. ATMs are not the only source of cash and we need to be open-minded enough to look at the alternatives.

We could usefully decide exactly what we want, and what might be achievable.
Clearly the issue is the simple ability to access cash.
– Must it be only from an ATM?
– Must we have 7 day a week 24 hour a day service?
– Must it always be free to use, or would a small charge be acceptable if the other option were to lose an ATM?
– How close must an ATM be to each community?
– and what size community qualifies for an ATM?
– Are other forms of cash withdrawal, were an ATM not viable, acceptable:
……….For example
………….Local shop
…………Post office
…………Mobile post office visiting at set times

At the same time as we might consider these options, many many people are, and always have been, remote from any means to access cash – and by remote I mean well beyond walking distance. How do the current arguments apply to them?

Gordon says:
8 February 2018

Alot of older people use the ATM on a regular basis to draw out what they need for a couple of days. If ATM’s were to cease this would mean they would have to find a bank and draw out a larger sum than normal to last them a couple of weeks or a month. Would this not put them at risk from being muggeed.

I wonder if anyone has actually worked out how much money in coins and notes the average person actually needs to see them through a given period. I think I could easily go a month on a hundred pounds in cash because my daily cash spends are quite low; I don’t go to the pub every night, or have to pay on the bus, or buy a newspaper and a cup of coffee every day. I might buy some eggs at a roadside stall or get some flowers or vegetables from the farm shop, or make a charitable contribution from time to time, but I expect I would get by. The milkman will take a cheque and even the window cleaner prefers me to pay him on-line.

In answer to Gordon, I suspect that ‘old people’ – always dragged by others into any debate in opposition to the motion – are no more likely to be mugged if they make a monthly visit to a bank as they are if they make frequent visits to an ATM.

I endorse Malcom’s final paragraph above about those already miles from a cashpoint; should not any redistribution also take them into account?

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duncan, when people live in places and can no longer drive to reach essential services such as their doctor, attend a hospital appointment, the dentist, let alone visit the chemist, shops, post office. what do you expect to happen? It is not “arrogance” to address practical issues. People’s circumstances change.

I think things are worse in Mongolia.

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I can understand how people feel when an important service is removed, whether it be a telephone box, a doctor’s surgery, a pharmacy, a cash machine, a petrol station, or any of the other many closures and withdrawals that have affected rural life. Many places now have a last postal collection at 9:00 am so cannot post a letter for next day delivery.

We live on the edge of a country town so enjoy reasonable provision of essential services – but the next nearest villages to us are ten miles away and they have very few facilities. The area is covered by vast state forests and a military training area so communication is not easy. We have relatives living in some of the villages and know the problems – but houses are remarkably expensive so such places must be desirable.

It would be interesting to know how many places that once had only one ATM now have none. A lot of people have complained about the loss of a machine and say they now have to use the one at the supermarket or the petrol station or go to the post office.

If LINK do what they say they will many places might get their cash machine back.

If they “have to” use the one at the supermarket, petrol station, or go to the Post Office, is that not just providing a replacement method for the “lost” service? When there are a number of options, why do we have to save a particular one?

Some criticised Beeching for axing many railway lines, and he did. no doubt, get some
wrong. But continuing to pour taxpayers money into expensive branch lines that were very little used, just for the convenience of a few, would have seemed a gross misuse of public funds when alternative transport was available. I am nostalgic about railways, but their maintenance and staffing were costly. Circumstances change.

ATMs? Isn’t this really just about getting access to cash. So surely we should be looking constructively at all possible ways a community might do this, not just be blinkered and focus on one – a source that we simply do not know will be badly affected or not. I hope Which? will look at this in the round and help with constructive proposals, and adopt a more creative approach than the intro suggests.

John / Duncan
ATMs & bank
There are plenty of ATMs in Ulaanbaatar at Khan Bank and Trade and Development Bank branches, where you can usually pull tugriks (pronounced “too-grk”) from your home bank account (depending on your bank). Khan Bank, which has branches in every aimag center, is the best bet to find an ATM outside of Ulaanbaatar. Banks in Ulaanbaatar and the province capitals can often change your money and will sometimes cash traveler’s cheques (which are not recommended) into tugriks, but it may be safest to change your money in Ulaanbaatar if you plan to be in remote areas.

The Trade and Development Bank has plonked down ATMs at a few key locations in Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan and Erdenet. These ATMs accept Visa and MasterCard and work most of the time, allowing you to withdraw up to T400, 000 per day. Because most of the Golomt Bank branches are open 24 hours, they don’t have ATMs (just give your card to the teller). Ordinary ATM cards issued from your bank at home probably won’t work; try to get a ‘debit’ card linked to your bank account. It should be associated with a credit card company.

Thank you, Malcolm. We should now count our blessings

The reality is, the only place you are likely to find an ATM is in a village setting unless someone invents a way to convert a mail box into a cash dispenser.

If you are no longer able to drive and find yourself cut off from civilisation and refuse to move then old age is going to be difficult for you, especially if you find yourself alone, the odds of which are 50/50, unless you have family close by to depend upon to supply all your needs. (A rarity these days as most women now have to work to supplement the household income,) The alternative is going into care – and we all know what that entails!

I used to live in a village with no amenities whatsoever but moved a couple of miles down the road to the next village into a smaller house within 5 mins walk to a cashpoint and a few shops.

It’s a fact of life, unless you pop your clogs prematurely, you are going to become what is politely now referred to a senior citizen. You either prepare for it and keep some semblance of independence or you live out the rest of your life in a state of dependence, discontentment and dissatisfaction, or worse a burden to everyone.

The choice is yours, but don’t expect a cash dispenser to magically appear outside your front door any time soon ’cause it ain’t going to ‘appen. It is still possible to both live and plan for the future and enjoy the present moment at the same time.

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Banks on wheels seem another helpful development where traditional branches have disappeared. Perhaps Which? could look at the success or otherwise of the deployment of true mobile banking?

Yes, but see what Duncan has to say about them in previous comments above. Not exactly the wonder horse.

Look at –

I adopt, I hope, a more constructive attitiude. We can always take a negative, worst case, view on anything particularly with no experience of it. The mobile post offices have disabled access and clearly thought has gone into helping customers. And why wouldn’t they? It seems a great idea to bring their services to communities that would otherwise be bereft. I wish them success.I wonder, as I have no experience of Post Offices or banks on wheels, whether they do a decent job. Has anybody used them?

Years ago, visiting very rural Suffolk, there were certain days & times when the fish & chip van parked up nearby.

Ours comes at 4:30 pm on a Thursday night but we have never used it. I doesn’t sell stamps.

Malcolm – I thought Duncan must have had direct experience of the mobile banks in Scotland, which is why I suggested his comments might be helpful. If they’re not going to be in position for very long and only visit a few places, and then not well-coordinated with the bus times, they might not be the answer for those most dependent on them. I would not go so far as to say they are a PR stunt, as Duncan does, but there seems to be considerable room for improvement. I would certainly expect much better of the Post Office which is actively trying to improve its outreach.

Does Which? know anything about shared bank branches, please? This has been suggested before, for example: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-2126489/As-branches-face-axe-calls-grow-shared-building-approach-prevent-towns-abandoned.html

My employer used to host a shared branch, which was well used, and only closed because the building was needed to allow expansion of its own activities.

I think the idea may well have been implemented slightly differently, by all the major banks and the Post Office reaching an agreement on providing their key services through the 11500 PO branches. That seems like a good move to me. Is thereir any need to duplicate that where a post office already does the job?

Having waited in queues at Post Offices I hope that the arrangements would include provision of ATMs. The banks moved from manual to automatic dispensing of cash many years ago and it would not make sense to expect PO staff to do what the banks largely abandoned.

Do we know how much the banks would be expected to pay the Post Office?

What I would like to know is how far we have progressed with shared banking.

We’ve not looked into shared bank branches yet, but this is a suggestion I’ve seen a few times. I’m happy to pass it on to our money team for them to consider further. It would be great to know what everyone thinks of this idea.

@awhittle, Alex, from what I have read (only a little) I think that the Post Office agreement to handle accounts for 28 banks was a reasonably good response to closing individual bank branches. It seems to be a similar scheme for basic banking needs to having a multi-bank branch. It needs properly staffing so that services are dispensed without too much waiting. Having the same facilities in a mobile post office for more remote areas also seems useful.

We cannot all be provided with a service on our doorstep – bank, post office, ATM. We, like many others, do not – and never have. Realistic ways of providing facilities should be encouraged, even if a little personal organisation is needed to make use of them.

A requirement to have cash means that you also have somewhere to spend it. In many cases that could mean the same cash can be recirculated – village shop, pub, for example. If they can only give cash back in limited amounts, its probably because only limited amounts are spent. I just wonder how much of this discussion is “on principle” rather than addressing the reality of the situation in a constructive way.

I recall the threat that 3000 Post Offices might close, though so far the number has been relatively small. I suggest the banks take responsibilities for their customers. What is needed is local planning to ensure that cash remains readily available in the areas that are already provided for. It’s more a matter of being practical than one of principle.

Getting back to shared bank branches, the one I used was run by one of the large banks and customers of other banks could use some of the services. The only ones I remember using (as a customer of a different bank) were withdrawal of cash via a couple of ATMs and depositing cheques and cash. The bank had wanted to set up on the university campus but was allowed to only if they operated in this way. Technically it was not a shared bank but a bank that offered services to customers of other banks. Although on campus, it was open to anyone who wanted to use it.

I think ‘shared’ branches is a good idea. A mobile bank sounds good in principal but would also seem the pefect answer to a bank robber’s prayers.

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The facilities offered are shown on the Post Office website but they are not correct for the one in our village shop. I must remember to point this out. The lady behind the counter told me that although the majority of Post Offices will provide cash, some don’t.