Industry body warns of ‘cash deserts’ in ATM funding row

Free cash withdrawal under threat
Free cash withdrawal under threat

Consumers face the possibility of “cash deserts” if a row over the funding of ATMs is not resolved, an industry body has warned.

Members of Link, the UK’s cash machine network, have been in talks over how to fund free-to-use ATMs, which cost around £1 billion per year to run.

The group’s findings suggested that while London could lose the most cash points, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham, Sheffield and Cardiff could also be particularly badly hit.

Following a meeting on Thursday, it said a committee would be set up to “explore a way forward for the sustainability of the Link scheme”.

The working group is expected to report back later in the year - and Link said every member was clear at the meeting that ensuring the future of the network and the cash access needs of UK consumers remained their “number one priority”.

Fears have been raised that more cash machines could start charging or disappear if current arrangements for sharing the cost of operating the network broke down.

Trade body the ATM Industry Association warned there were risks that “cash deserts” could be created. It had collected information from members which were independent ATM operators on which machines could be at risk.

It warned companies could have to look at removing upwards of 35% of their free-to-use ATMs unless a clear resolution to maintain the Link network was reached.