The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed a parliamentary intervention on potential changes to ATM interchange fees.

Chair of the Treasury Committee Nicky Morgan MP has written to Sir Mark Boleat, the chair of the UK’s largest cash machine network Link, to seek assurances on the accessibility of cash machines after a consultation was launched on the future level of its interchange fee, which funds the free-to-use ATM network. Under the proposals, the fee, which is paid by card issuers to ATM operators, would be reduced from 25p to 20p per cash withdrawal.

Commenting on the proposals, Morgan said: “The Financial Inclusion programme requires Link to defend and improve access to cash for all UK consumers. Yet with the proposed 20% reduction of the interchange fee, it seems intuitive that some machines will become economically unviable.

“There have been concerns that the proposals could lead to ‘ATM deserts’ for communities. As the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier said, cash continues to play a key role for many, with 2.7 million people in the UK reliant almost entirely on cash transactions.

She continued: “I have asked Link for assurances that the proposals will preserve the existing geographic spread of ATMs, and will have no negative impact on financial inclusion.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman added: “Free-to-use cash machines support not just the businesses that house them, but also other shops, markets and small businesses that still rely on cash for payment. Reducing interchange fees, payable by banks for their customers to use these facilities, could lead to some cash machines being removed from local shops. We welcome Nicky Morgan’s comments on this issue and urge Link to think carefully about the consequences of the ATM network shrinking.”