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Access to cash remains in serious jeopardy

Access to Cash Review welcome but free-to-access cash remains in serious jeopardy

NoteMachine has today welcomed Natalie Ceeney’s Access to Cash report as critical to the debate on the future of cash and consumers’ access to financial services in the UK more broadly. However, it fails to address the short-to-medium situation: LINK’s current pricing structure is facilitating the end of free-to-use cash as we know it.

NoteMachine is committed to ensuring a stable and vibrant consumer economy and welcomes Ceeney’s view that access to cash should be protected for those who rely on it over other payment methods. This can only be done if government commits itself to making it a requirement for all retailers to take cash as an option, as recommended by Ceeney. The decline and eventual death of cash will only come about if the lack of acceptance of cash is allowed to continue. Central to this is making it more economically viable to provide cash for Independent ATM operators (IADs).

Peter McNamara, Chief Executive of NoteMachine, said:

“Natalie Ceeney’s report is a vital intervention on the future of access to cash, illustrating the crucial role freely available cash withdrawals play in supporting the economy and the raw experiences of those who rely on cash, especially vulnerable people and those in more isolated communities. NoteMachine remains committed to ensuring those that need it are always able to have free access to cash.

“The role of IADs in providing free access to cash is critical. Government and regulators need to understand that once ATMs disappear from shops and streets, it’s almost impossible to replace them. Therefore, there should be a collective and absolute focus on preventing further closures. However, this must be contingent on their being an immediate Treasury and PSR intervention on LINK’s pricing structure, or else face thousands of ATMs converting to pay-to-use or closing, directly impacting society’s most vulnerable. This wouldn’t be a moral choice for IADs, but the only viable choice available to us.

“NoteMachine is calling on government and regulators to take urgent action to protect access to cash for the future. This must include redressing the harmful effects of LINK’s reduction to the interchange fee and cancelling the final 5% reduction planned for January 2021, as well as ensuring competitive and fair industry practices among independent ATM operators, high street banks, and LINK going forward.”

As the report points out, industry safeguards put in place by bodies such as LINK to protect free access to cash, like the 1km radius rule, have not been successful in preventing large-scale closures of ATMs and the introduction of more pay-to-use machines.


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