Majority of free-to-use ATMs at risk

A letter to the government suggests most free-to-use ATMs are under threat of closure


Nearly every shop’s free-to-use cash machine in the UK is at risk of closure or having charges introduced, a damning letter to the government has warned.

The open letter, signed by groups including the ACS, FSB and ATM provider NoteMachine, warns that 37,000 out of the 38,180 free-to-use ATMs in the UK are at risk, unless action is taken to ensure they are ‘adequately funded’.

Cuts to the fees paid by banks to ATM operators have been blamed for the loss of 14,400 free ATMs in the last five years.

The letter follows the recent announcement of the Treasury’s plan to protect access-to-cash, which was found to fail to prevent many free ATMs in local shops being lost or switched to pay-to-use, according to experts.

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It also has been written to coincide with the government consulting its Future of Payments Review, which considers how payments are likely to be made in the future and steps to be taken for retail payments.

NoteMachine is one of the largest independent ATM operators in the UK, operating thousands of sites in convenience stores. This year, more than 1,000 NoteMachine ATMs are switching from free to pay-to-use.

Steve Makaritis, chief executive of NoteMachine, said: “For convenience stores and other small businesses, continuing to provide payment choice to customers is vital to ensure they maximise footfall.

“For those with ATMs, being able to offer a reliable, free-to-use cash machine to their communities is an incredibly valuable service – particularly in rural, digitally excluded or less affluent areas.”

He added that the government and the Financial Conduct Authority should use this review and recent legislation to help “maximise payment choice” for businesses and individuals.

The joint letter concluded: “Now is the time for the government, financial services regulators and industry to come together to establish cash as a payment method of the future, maintain payment choice for businesses and give consumers the diverse payments landscape they require.”

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