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Link hopes to save ATMs in remote areas with ‘super premiums’

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Link, the cash machine network, is hoping to keep remote ATMs running by increasing the fee it pays to cash machine operators.

Under the proposals, cash machine operators of 3,500 free-to-use ATMs that are 1km or more away from the nearest free-to use ATM, or form part of LINK’s Financial Inclusion Programme, will be offered up to £2.75 per withdrawal.

The intention of offering the £2.75 so-called ‘super premium’ to cash machine operators is to keep these remote ATMs open.

From 1 April 2019, around 1,000 of the ATMs will initially be eligible to receive the premium, but Link said this is likely to increase as cash withdrawals at ATMs continue to fall.

The £2.75 super premium represents an increase from the 30p top-up subsidy, which is currently offered to eligible ATMs under Link’s Financial Inclusion Programme. This payment is in addition to the ‘interchange rate’, which is the fee paid between card issuers and ATM operators.

Ultimately, Link expects a number of existing charging machines could be converted to fee-free ATMs.

John Howells, chief executive of Link, said: “While many consumers are turning to alternative payment methods such as contactless cards, it is vital we continue to provide free access to cash to those who need it. These premiums will further safeguard ATMs in remote and less well-off areas.”

Do the proposals go far enough?

Jenni Allen, managing director of Which? Money, noted that boosting premiums for machines in remote areas has so far not succeeded in stopping cashpoints from closing around the country, particularly in the more remote areas where they are desperately needed.

“We hope this latest move from Link is enough to arrest this alarming trend,” Allen said.

“What is urgently needed is for a regulator to be given a duty to protect access to cash, so that the millions of people who rely on it in their lives are protected from rapid changes through ATM and bank branch closures,” she added.