With the UK at risk of losing thousands of ATMs, new Positive Money research recommends that the Government gives regulators the role of protecting access to cash, and the power to stop ATM closures.
Over three quarters (77%) of British adults class access to free ATMs as ‘essential’, according to results from a poll commissioned by Positive Money and undertaken by YouGov this month.
The poll asked 2,028 British adults how essential, if at all, it is for them to be able to access a free-to-use ATM. 76.51% said that it was ‘essential’, of which 35.73% consider it ‘very essential’ and 40.78% ‘fairly essential’. Only 21.98% of respondents suggested such access was not essential, of which 17.24% answered ‘not very essential’, and 4.74% ‘not at all essential’. 1.51% said they did not know.
These results have been reported in a number of publications, including Bloomberg: Cash Isn’t Going Down Without a Fight in Digital UK, the Daily Mail: Free-to-use cash machines `essential for majority´, Yahoo, and AOL.
This comes as the UK is on the verge of losing thousands of ATMs, as the Link network confirms plans to cut their transaction fees in order to compete with card companies like VISA and Mastercard. Such a development would cause significant difficulty for the millions of Britons who still rely on cash, and who would struggle to manage their money and pay for the things they need without access to an ATM.
These results show the huge extent to which Britons still rely on free ATMs, and demonstrates the need for the Government to take action in order to protect them. Ongoing pressure from banks and card companies could make widespread free ATMs a thing of the past. Free access to cash is important for millions of people’s everyday lives, and unless we have a regulator that’s prepared to intervene, they’re in danger of facing real difficulty.
Our new report released today calls for the state to step in to protect access to cash. Titled ‘The Future of Cash: Protecting access to payments in the digital age’, it makes three recommendations.
Firstly, we recommend that the Government should assign the Payment Systems Regulator the explicit job of protecting people’s access to cash and new enhanced powers to stop closures. Secondly, the Government should clarify the definition of legal tender, to ensure that retailers accept cash as a means of payment. And finally, we want to see the Government working with the Bank of England to introduce a digital version of cash, and set up a public payments provider with the specific job of reaching those who are currently excluded.
The report is available to download here, and will be launched tonight, 20th March 2018, with contributions from Labour MP Catherine West and the SNP spokesperson for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Drew Hendry MP. Please click here to register your attendance.