Author Lauren Howells

Link has pledged to protect all its free-to-use cash machines that are a kilometre or more from the next nearest free-to-use ATM, regardless of any wider changes to interchange, in response to what some critics have described as the potential for “ATM deserts”. 

News back in October that a number of free-to-use cash machines across the UK could be under threat

Following the news back in October that proposals relating to the interchange fee, put forward by the Board of Link, could mean that the future of a large number of free-to-use ATMs could be under threat, Link has announced that it will protect the interchange at sites more than a kilometre or more apart, so that these ATMs “should not need to be removed as a result of a more general reduction in interchange rates”. 

Link said: “The Board would, therefore, like to announce, in advance of the main decision, that regardless of any wider changes to interchange it will protect all free-to-use ATMs which are a kilometre or more from the next nearest free-to-use ATM.”

Critics had said proposed reductions could lead to “vast reduction in free access to cash”

Back in November, the ATM Industry Association said that the proposed reductions in Link InterchangeLink to protect free cash machines within a kilometer form each other may lead to a “vast reduction in free access to cash for British citizens and businesses” and that any money saved by a “tiny number” of banks would be “at the expense of already hard-pressed consumers”.

Ron Delnevo, Executive Director Europe of the ATM Industry Association, went on to say that it would “hit the most hard-up the heaviest – particularly the millions of people who rely on cash for day-to-day budgeting”.

He also pointed out that businesses in areas where customers did not have access to cash, would lose their customers to bigger city centres and the proposals were likely to cause “ATM deserts”, where communities with no local convenient access to cash and other financial services would wither.

At the end of November, the head of the Treasury select committee asked Link to clarify how many free-to-use cash machines would be closed as a result of the proposals.

In response, Link said that it did not expect significant numbers of machines to close immediately as a result of the proposals and that

“the removal of an ATM or switching from free to pay-to-use which creates a 1km area with no free ATM access will be assumed a detriment”. 

Number of cash machines Link has said it will protect, amounts to reportedly around 2,000

A report in the Guardian suggests that the amount of cash machines that Link has said it will protect would amount to about 2,000.  

Consultation decision due to be announced before end of January

The consultation by the Board of Link on interchange rates ended on 30th November, with a final decision due to be announced before the end of January.