Trade bodies call for transparency on ATM changes

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The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the Federation of Small Businesses and Which? have called on the Payment Systems Regulator to provide more transparency on the UK’s ATM network at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary small shops’ group.

Last week, ATM network Link introduced the first in a series of cuts to interchange fees, with further reductions planned over the next four years. The changes have raised concerns that more cash machines, particularly in rural and isolated communities, could be lost.

Link’s head of development and external relations, Graham Mott, sought to reassure those in the meeting that further reductions in interchange fees were not set in stone.

“We will continually review the network to see what effect these changes have and may amend the timescale for the introduction of more cuts if we think it is best to do so,” he said.

“Our main goal is the rebalance the network. We are not solely concerned with the number of ATMs across the country but more the concentration of these units, particularly in rural areas.”

Link is working alongside the Payment Systems Regulator to ensure that free-to-use ATMs, especially those in deprived or isolated locations, are no more than 1km away from each other.

The regulator, which was set up by MPs in 2015, will also publish a monthly review from Link to keep track of the concentration of ATMs across the UK, with the first report due to be published at the end of the month.

ACS head of policy and public affairs Edward Woodhall stressed that retailers should be better informed about the changes to the ATM network. “Seventy six per cent of our members have an ATM in their store and 45% of them run a free-to-use machine. Convenience stores have a huge role to play in supporting the local community, especially following the increase in bank closures,” he said.

“That is why the ACS is calling for the Payment Systems Regulator to be more transparent to ensure that businesses can easily access information about ATMs.”

Which? head of external affairs Richard Piggin pointed out how important ATMs are to the UK economy, with ”80% of people seeing a free cash machine as crucial to their daily lives”.

Federation of Small Businesses deputy head of public affairs, Ruby Peacock, added: “Cash is still vital to small businesses and their customers which makes it even more important that we protect the ATM network.”

Payment Systems Regulator head of policy and strategy, Matthew Cherry, confirmed in the meeting that small businesses would have access to the regulator’s reports.

He said: ”Our monthly review of the ATM network should be made available online at the end of every month. It is not within our remit to control the number of ATMs but rather address the issues with access within the marketplace.” 

The group’s chair Ruth George MP emphasised how important the ATM network is for small business and local communities.

She said: ”It is important that we make it as simple as possible for businesses and shoppers to access cash, which is why we as MPs need to understand how the changes in cash machine fees could affect those in our constituencies.”

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