/ 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.


Can anyone remember when the customer was always right? True until it interferes with the maximisation of profits. Still it is only our money at the end of the day why should we have a say . I am aware of pensioners who have switched banks only for the new ones to close branches as well. So much for customer focus . Money is now more important than people lord helpus !!!!!!!!!!!

Michael Gallacher says:
8 February 2018

Shared or joint branches seems an obvious way forward which would also be a way of supporting local businesses. More people having to use internet banking because of the loss of bank branches can mean fewer shopping locally because it’s very easy to click another button and shop on line. We must try to break the vicious circle of branch closures that is having such a deleterious impact on the High Street.

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mike says:
8 February 2018

so lets get this right these banks want to make it harder for me to get at my money. This same money that they use to invest to gain more profits. Have i missed something ?

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Frank says:
9 February 2018

First they made a few staff redundant, then they closed the whole branch leaving people dependent on holes in the wall, then they removed the wall. 😡😡

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Or to put it another way, Frank >> First the customers stopped paying by cheque, and then they started dealing with other financial organisations who issued credit cards, after which they used the internet for as many purposes as possible and stopped coming to the bank altogether, and now they will use anybody’s hole in the wall wherever they happen to be. And you want us to keep a branch open at your expense under these conditions?

If you can purchase cash at your local supermarket when spending X amount, then how long will it take before they realise they could deliver it to your door along with your online order and postage stamps? Unless of course you are so remote that you are not eligible for online delivery services.

Another one for the constructive list, Beryl. 🙂

Foreign currency is already sent by post by several organisations including the Post Office, and we buy postage stamps by the sheet for delivery by Royal Mail so the principle is well-established.

I was thinking of setting up a local service for friends and neighbours where I would collect enough cash each week and drive round in an unmarked saloon car delivering it. I would require payment in advance by on-line transfer and my ‘customers’ would have to trust me. A small contribution to a local charity [of my choice] would lubricate the system.

Alternatively, I think it won’t be long before Amazon will be doing it.

We can already print postage labels. Perhaps the technology will arrive for us to print our own cash notes, or 3d printers to produce bitcoins.

I had considered postal or courier delivery of cash, as you can with minimum orders of foreign currency, but of course some do not wish to pay for a service, however small that payment might be.

We have a list of different ways in which cash might be made available to people who have never had, or no longer might have, access to an ATM. Some involve making a journey to a larger settlement, as they do probably to shop, visit the doctor, or other routine visits, to family and friends maybe. Some are directed at those who are unable to leave their home area.

Amazon cash might by fake imports, so i wouldn’t rely on them. But the charitable method using the Ward saloon is another one for the constructive list.

When we know just how many, or how few, ATMs might be affected and just what “rules” we might have for the maximum distance you have to walk from your front door, we could put practical solutions together.

Fran says:
9 February 2018

I used to be happy in this country, proud to be born in it, proud of feeling free, feeling that our Law was just and the best in the world, feeling safe with a Government who cared for us people, who brought about the great National health service for all poor or wealthy, jobs for everyone, not hundreds lying in the streets homeless,cold and hungry and much more, unjust restrictions, we have a cold unfeeling leaders who only believe in Power and wealth for themselves. their actions do not follow their words, now Bankers who have caused misery and turmoil through greed and dishonesty are trying to deny our easy access to what money we do have. Shame on them all.

If I ever feel like that, Fran, I just think of the alternatives and realise that things are much better than I thought. I know the bankers feel we have let them down by doing our business in other ways but they will get over it and realise that their behaviour doesn’t benefit the bottom line.

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John says:
9 February 2018

You expect the enviroment to change and certain attitudes and behaviours but some things need not change that help us because we need them because they are part of our daily lives .
However the power lays with those who provide these services and we must convince them they are crucial to our lives or else we will go elsewhere .

If we all went cashless do you think for one moment that the charge of 2% on everything would stay the same? No ,the banks would then have a complete monopoly on what % they would charge us,why are we so stupid ?giving our money to the bankers every time.
Cash is king because it gives us freedom.

E.Roberts says:
9 February 2018

Cashpoint machines are absolutely necessary. Small transactions of all kinds are made easy that way. Customers need service , and cash machines are a basic part of that.

I’m constantly amazed at the depths to which people in authority will go. Banks are more than willing to have you put your money into them; and now seem to want to object to you/us taking our money out of them. It IS after all our money, and NOT their money irrespective of what they think!!
Obviousy, the less ATM’s there are, the more difficult it would be to have access to OUR money, which extremely cynically, means more profit for them…the banks. Great Sankey, what a place we’re turning into!

Cash payments cannot be traced…so the big companies and institutions cannot control our lifes,
it might not be important in many ways BUT can lead to all sortes of “manipulations” on the human
specie economically and OTHERWISE…when everything is recorded!

A. Smith says:
9 February 2018

Cashpoint machines, like rural bus services and post offices are a lifeline to many people. Sadly our financial institutions have yet to realise that there are more things in life than just making money !!

Not to a financial institution there’s not – making money is their sole raison d’être. It’s only the regulatory structure that reins them in.

John said above that we have to convince the banks that their services are crucial to our lives or we will go elsewhere; the problem is they wouldn’t care if we did because many of their services are loss-making and for many of the traditional retail banking services the customers have gone elsewhere already – for credit, for loans, for insurance cover, for payment facilities – and now are avoiding the use of cash if they can.

This discussion has made me realise that we must fight to retain convenient local services such as ATMs and Post Offices. I’m not suggesting that these are introduced where they never existed but availability of local services is a factor in helping choose where to live. I know one village where there has been a successful campaign to retain a school.

The government has committed to a universal service obligation for broadband and while I’m not sure if the plans are practical, the concept of the government putting the needs of its citizens ahead of the wishes of the commercial world is a good one. Companies have to make a profit but that does not mean that every ATM has to be commercially viable.

My understanding is that the total number of ATMs has been increasing, not decreasing, and if the number is cut this should focus on areas that are oversupplied rather than removing further ATMs where they are needed.


That sounds like a fight that needs to be fought with our legs, our wallets and our time.

It’s not much fun for the elderly and disabled.

Sir i live in India but my money in UK bank i received ATMCARD but one time withdrawnafternot working pin on ATM machine what can I do

Hello, we suggest that you contact your bank about the problem. You should find their telephone number on your card.

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That’s interesting, Duncan. Sadly Royal Bank has been on the road to the rocks for some time and has been forced to dispose of many assets in order to bolster its finances. I presume they have closed lots of branches in these small towns and villages. Banks used to accept the obligation of providing services [sometimes part-time] in more isolated parts of the country because residents and business had no alternative and the overall trade was profitable.

I remember going to agricultural and county shows where the banks would have elaborate adapted caravans available for the farmers and visitors to talk to a manager or just carry out basic banking functions. Since money has gone electronic and digital the physical presence is no longer necessary so I can’t see these mobile banks surviving for more than one generation.

Very few banks now have a ‘night safe’ for local businesses to drop off their cash and cheques at the end of the day. The times they are a changin’.

There are a number of articles in the Guardian on ATMs:
ATMs need not be the only source of cash. Others have been given on this Convo.

Regarding the elderly and disabled – many will, because of their lack if mobility, never have been able to visit a bank or ATM. I have every sympathy with their situation but do not see how retaining, for example, an ATM within 1 km will be of any use. Much better for them maybe if they have a visiting mobile post office, bank, cashback from their shop or pub, otherwise they may have to rely on family or friends as many already do.

A universal service obligation – post, broadband for example – brings a service into your home. Such a concept is not going to happen with cash – unless we have free postal delivery?

A universal service obligation does not imply bringing a service to your home. Ensuring that areas that have ATMs retain convenient access would be one example of such an obligation. Many Post Offices have closed, so it’s unacceptable to assume that they will be a viable alternative to ATMs. We can’t afford to blunder on and hope for the best. Planning is essential and that should have happened before the removal of rural ATMs started.

We do not know how ATMs might, or might not, be affected in rural areas, and we do not know how even if some are whether alternative sources of cash could be available. I’d like to see the outcome of the PSRs deliberations before succumbing to pessimism.

It’s not pessimism, Malcolm. ATMs have already closed, as you are well aware. I presume that Link has acted because of pressure from the public. You are welcome to wait. You have chosen to live in village that does not have an ATM, and that was your decision.

The pessimism I refer to comes from not looking at the problem as a whole, but only looking at the reported downsides – that may be misreported. We don’t know. It is, as far as I can see, about getting reasonable access to cash; that is not exclusive to ATMs even if they were to be reduced – which we do not know, particularly in rural and deprived areas. So I support a constructive approach.,

Reasonable access to cash could have been considered, particularly when bank branches were closed and ATMs were removed. Forward planning is a very constructive approach.

Who do you think should have been doing that forward planning, Wavechange? The disposition of cash machines has been completely random and unplanned and there is nothing in place to ensure that withdrawal is not just as haphazard. Expansion is always easier than retraction. It will be interesting to see what the Payment Systems Regulator comes up with, if anything. Meanwhile, the banks will expedite the branch closure process in all their marginal areas and I bet they will not consult the neighbouring banks or anyone else.

It’s not obvious who should do the planning, John. I don’t think it comes within the current remit of PSR. I’m very wary of suggestions that it’s OK to remove an ATM because cash is available from other sources without knowing how long that situation will remain. It would be very interesting to learn how people have coped after ATMs have been removed in the last year or two.

The Guardian ? just another politically biased paper are not they all ?

The reasons I tend to post links to the Guardian is that the pages are freely available and there are no annoying pop-ups. On scientific matters it’s often better than the others.

Interesting posts about the lack of planning. This is often the first casualty where commercial interests are concerned. They’re more than happy to expand, promise the Earth and tell the public they can be trusted and relied upon, and equally as happy – as soon as it suits them – to break any promises made as soon as the going gets a little difficult, and simply remove any service they’ve provided in the past without any concern for the personal consequences of so doing.

This is how Capitalism operates and I really wonder if there’s any company, institution or organisation now in existence that can be trusted to carry out what it originally offered and promised.

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Be careful Ian. You could be criticised for being negative, but I do agree.

Duncan – I’m not keen on all the tracking and I expect the problem will get worse, but I cannot see any solution. I think it is important to provide readily accessible information to support what I post on Convo.

I know virtually nothing about blockers and trackers but I somehow don’t mind being in blissful ignorance of them on the limited number of media sites I access most rather than the other media sites which clearly have a record of everything I have looked at elsewhere. I find that intrusive and invasive.

It’s only a matter time before we get screen messages on the ATM’s to tell us what to do with the money we are about to take out.

I don’t pay much attention, but have certainly seen advertising on ATMs.

I think the problem with trackers is their invasiveness. Google is one of the worst culprits, albeit far from the only one, and because I use Google for general searches I consistently see ads for the same products – in my case a 1TB Tbolt SSD external drive. I appreciate it may sound amusing, but to see the same product being advertised on almost every site I visit is a tad wearing. Where it stops being funny for anyone, I imagine, is when that data is used for other purposes, such as car insurance or contents insurance.

Frankly, unless I’m asked and specifically grant permission to be tracked, then I believe they have no right.

I am clearly out of touch, Wavechange. I rarely use an ATM, preferring to get money as cashback from the checkout. I was merely trying to connect this branch line with the main line of the topic. It is so easy at the weekend to go off on a tangent.

They’re more than happy to expand, promise the Earth and tell the public they can be trusted and relied upon, and equally as happy – as soon as it suits them – to break any promises… Sounds a bit like politicians. 🙁 However at the moment we are all speculating. It might be a more fruitful discussion when we know the facts.

John mentioned about a more sensible distribution of ATMs, and suggested at least one where there are settlements of 5000 or more. At the moment there are 55000 free ATMs (plus others that charge a fee) . On average that is about one per 1000 people over 15. Plenty to go round if they are sensibly distributed. Part of LINK’s statement seemed about reducing them where there are too many. and helping fund them in vulnerable areas.

If we are going to head down the route of inadequate provision of services, perhaps we will see products that don’t last as long as they used to, which can be difficult or prohibitively expensive to repair, and maybe not keep spare parts. We could sell cars without spare wheels. We could be obstructive to customers with faulty goods and run down Trading Standards so that it’s unlikely to help those with genuine problems. We seem to be making good progress.

At one time I was generally happy as a consumer but it’s getting harder now.

I will do my best to retain the ATM in our village which has a population of around 2000 and would encourage others to do the same.

However at the moment we are all speculating. It might be a more fruitful discussion when we know the facts.

If we wait until we all know the facts, then there won’t be any contributions. And what did facts ever have to do with a good debate?

I see little point in delaying discussion because banks and ATMs have already disappeared. We, the customers, deserve a voice. In the past year I have been directed to several cash dispensers, either by people or by online information, and found they have been removed.

Delaying discussion will just make matters worse.

I don’t want a company to sell me my own money. Banks can well afford these transaction fees, and many people still want to use, or are dependent on cash. It’s called customer service.

What you are actually saying Edward is that you don’t want to pay a company to look after your money for you, keep it safe and secure irrespective of what might happen, and provide access to it at any time of the day or night more or less anywhere in the UK. The fact is you are are already paying for this service but not in a transparent way.

There is no serious threat to free-to-use ATM’s under the plans announced by LINK except rationalisation to balance out the provision and use subsidy to maintain the service in isolated areas.

If as a consequence of this exercise there are communities without a free-to-use ATM it is possible that a commercial operator could be persuaded to install one somewhere convenient involving a charge to the customer’s bank account or some other pay-per-withdrawal basis. Until the details of LINK’s programme become clearer it is speculation whether or not there will be adequate free-to-use provision across the country, what the alternative forms of access to cash in each area would be, and what the availability times would be for such alternatives.

First I confess to a deep mistrust of all banks. Obviously banks need to make a profit but clearly they took and used our money in a variety of ways that generated high profits & as 2008 proved, not always in honest dealings. We then, as customers and taxpayers, subsequently had to bail them out. Justifiably they now face closer scrutinity within a stricter framework that aims to protect us, in part thanks to Which?
So, does it honestly surprise any of us that banks are now planning to charge us to get our own money out?
Without either branches or ATMs my guess is they seen a way to have us over a barrel. Perhaps I’m too sceptical.

I have not seen any proposal to charge for access to the banks’ ATM’s. I believe the only contractual obligation that banks have to their customers is to enable them to withdraw cash from their bank’s own machines. The banks also, however, under a reciprocal agreement, allow their customers to have access to the machines owned by other banks and to machines operated under the not-for-profit LINK organisation which includes several building societies and other providers. Up to now, this facility has reduced the impact of extensive bank branch closures.

Not all machines operated by a different bank to the customer’s allow the same functionality as their own bank’s machines, and some might have restrictions on withdrawals.

I am not aware of banks being under any obligation to provide ATM’s and the network has grown up by chance, without any coordination or control, which is how we come to have too many in some places and too few in others. I believe LINK is conscientiously attempting to redress that.

Customers have the right to distrust their chosen service providers, of course, and look elsewhere for better services. I would not expect a mutual building society, for example, to charge its own members for access to their money and if I needed to look elsewhere I would be heading in that direction.

I don’t see why we should have to pay anything to draw our own money out. The banks are closing branches more than ever now which is saving them a lot of money therefore giving them more profit. It Isn’t always convenient to use any of your own banks branch machines wherever you are so I mostly use any bank machine or a supermarket one. If we are charged to draw money out of any cash machine, we are lumbered as they know we are captive customers. Alternatively, we can at the moment get up to £50 cashback from shops when making a purchase but that doesn’t go very far these days. The banks have encouraged us to do on line banking and use cash machines to save them money on staff and now we are being penalised for doing so. The banks say we don’t use their counter services like we used to which is of their making. Come on banks put the customer first for a change rather than thinking how you can make more profit and give the public a poorer service.

Personally I find £50 in cash goes a long way if I use all the other payment facilities at my disposal – which are generally more convenient than going to a town centre and standing in the rain in an exposed location to take out a larger amount of cash.

£30 last me a long time usually taken out by going into my bank and withdrawing in £5 notes and £1 coins I still have £5 notes taken out months ago

Yes, Bishbut – I think the banks know, and everyone else disputes, that we actually need very little cash these days for most of our requirements, so maintaining an expensive cash dispensing service does not make good business sense and adds to the operating costs that in the end impact on customers either through higher fees and charges or through reduced interest on balances.

That said, everyone has a need for some cash just for the minor expenditures and for the things that cannot be done in any other way [as listed many times in these Conversations], so there need to be some convenient facilities for getting cash. Perhaps some sort of ratio to population is necessary so that any town with more than 5,000 residents [say] must have at least one might be worth pursuing as a guideline and scaling up from there. In the other direction there needs to be consideration for areas where 10,000 people might live in scattered settlements but there are no banks, supermarkets, shopping parades or railway stations that would be natural sites for an ATM.

As has been said, there is no guarantee of post office coverage now that they are almost entirely detached from the sorting and delivery of mail or the routing of telephone calls. Perhaps the lottery terminal network might repay examination as a clue to the best distribution of cash machines.

colin says:
10 February 2018

i don’t use cash, but many people with poor credit ratings have no choice but to. this is the thin end of the wedge – we will all be disadvantaged in the end.