The last few years have sparked a time of rapid technological development in the convenience sector, with new payment methods like fingerprint scanners, contactless payment, biometrics and RFID tags all contributing to a change in the way that people shop.
While these developments have made it easier for customers to pay in different ways, the one thing that hasn’t really changed in our sector is the importance of cash to customers, and by extension, free-to-use cash machines.
Overall, around 75% of all purchases made in the convenience sector in 2017 were made with cash, so its value to customers mustn’t be underestimated.
Additionally, as those of you who have a free-to-use cash machine in your store will attest, they’re a great way of driving footfall to the store and encouraging people to purchase things while they’re there.
Additionally, cash machines support the local economy by enabling people to shop with businesses, local markets and charitable causes that may only be able to accept cash.
All of this makes Link’s decision to press ahead with interchange fee cuts that will by design reduce the number of cash machines in the UK especially concerning.
The plans are likely to have a serious detrimental impact on the communities that rely on one source locally for their access to cash, and despite Link’s insistence that rural communities will be protected, the jury is still out on whether or not they’re going far enough to protect free cash machines in isolated areas.
We believe Link’s plans to cut the ATM network are in direct contrast to the objectives of the Payment Systems Regulator who are tasked with making sure that people’s access to cash is protected, and will continue to work to secure the future provision of free cash machines hosted in convenience stores.
James Lowman is the CEO of the Association of Convenience Retailers