UK: 250 free-to-use ATM machines disappearing every month

LINK, the UK’s cash machine (ATM) network, recently published its ATM Footprint Report, revealing alarming findings. The report showed that free-to-use cashpoints are closing at a record rate of 250 ATMs per month. As a result, many communities are left without access to money.


Link’s ATM Footprint Report found that between the end of January and the start of July 2018, the number of free-to-use ATMs fell from 54,500 to 53,200. While many of the closed ATMs seem to have been located in well-served areas, 76 machines in ‘protected’ rural areas where shuttered. A protected ATM is one that is more than a kilometer from any other cash machine or place where cash can be accessed without charge.

In response, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is calling for more protection for free cash machines in remote rural areas.  Hannah Nixon, the PSR’s managing director, said: “The requirements we intend to place on Link will help ensure that Link achieves their commitment to protecting the geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs across the UK.”

Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, said that the closures were “worrying”. She added: “The PSR is rightly concerned by the closures, but I fear its regulatory intervention may be too little, too late. The PSR must ensure that Link is held to its commitment to maintain the broad geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs.”

David Clarke, head of policy at Positive Money, said the rate of closures was “deeply concerning” and continued by saying: “These closures risk leaving whole communities without access to cash, harming the over two million people who are wholly reliant on cash for their day-to-day shopping.”

Link chief executive, John Howells, responded: “Consumers are continuing to switch from cash to alternative payment methods, and ATM volumes are falling 6% year-on-year. Given this backdrop, it’s critical we protect cash access for those who rely on it, and maintain a comprehensive network of ATMs that’s spread right across the UK. The report today is part of our commitment to monitor the situation on the ground and do whatever it takes to ensure people continue to have the free access to cash they want.”