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Campaign victory for FSB and Which?

LINK, the interbank network of ATMs, has cancelled one of its planned interchange fee cuts and is postponing another, meaning free-to-use cash machines are now less likely to be removed.

The news comes after months of hard campaigning from FSB and the consumer group Which? to bring pressure to bear on LINK to row back their plans to cut its interchange fee which was putting 10,000 free-to-use cash machines at risk.

Recent data from FSB showed that half of small firms are already more than one kilometre away from their nearest free-to-use cashpoint. It also showed that the majority (53%) of retailers with an opinion on the issue say that losing access to their nearest free-to-use cash machine would hurt revenues.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, welcomed LINK’s decision and commented on the need for a full review of the cash machine network to minimise further risk to consumers and small businesses. He said: “LINK’s decision goes to show that a full, transparent review of the cash machine network should have been conducted before interchange fee cuts were introduced.

“It’s good that LINK is starting to see the light on this. In recent months, it’s seemed as though the announcement of cuts alone were enough to cause ATMs to start disappearing. 

“Too often, its small firms and vulnerable consumers in rural communities that need cash points the most who are impacted when the ATM network shrinks. Many of these communities are being hit by bank branch closures at the same time.

“Reduced access to cash is hurting high streets all over the country and giving card payment companies free reign to up the charges they levy on small businesses. A full review of the cash machine network is needed before even more damage is done.” 

Going forward, FSB and Which? will continue to pressure The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to undertake a market review of use of LINK, Mastercard, and Visa payment systems, especially relating to use of cash; the potential consumer impact of reducing free-to-use ATMs; and alternative options for accessing free cash.