The Government recognises that widespread free access to cash remains extremely important to the day-to-day lives of many consumers and businesses in the UK. Government has been engaging and will continue to engage with the regulators and industry, including LINK, to ensure that it is maintained. At Spring Statement, Government also launched a public Call for Evidence on cash and digital payments which, amongst other things, seeks to find out how cash usage and need varies by demographics.
As part of this, the PSR is monitoring developments within ATM provision. The PSR recently commissioned work to understand the impact on the provision of free-to-use ATMs that a reduction in interchange fees may have. A summary of the findings can be found on their website at this link: https://www.psr.org.uk/psr-focus/the-uk-atm-network/atm-impact-study. The Government has therefore not made its own assessment of the impact.
The PSR have also set out three requirements of LINK: that LINK must maintain the current geographical spread of ATMs; that any changes made to interchange fees must be incremental to allow LINK to monitor the impact and take action if the impact is not as expected; and for a greater focus on LINK’s financial inclusion programme, to continue to fill gaps in the network. The PSR has committed to using its powers to act should LINK behave in a way that conflicts with its statutory objectives.