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 industry, including LINK, to ensure that this access is maintained.
The Government has not made any formal assessment of the potential effect of LINK’s proposals to change the interchange fee rate on consumers, small businesses, the North Dorset constituency or other rural communities. However, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), which Government set up as an independent regulator in 2015 with a statutory objective to ensure that the UK’s payment systems work in the interests of their users, is monitoring developments within ATM provision, and is conducting ongoing work on the impact that changes may have. The PSR has recently published a summary of their work to date, which can be found at https://www.psr.org.uk/psr-focus/the-UK-ATM-network.
The PSR has committed to using its powers to act should any of the firms it regulates behave in a way that conflicts with its statutory objectives.
LINK has assured us and the PSR that industry is committed to maintaining an extensive network of free-to-use cash machines, and to ensuring that the present geographical spread of ATMs is maintained. LINK intends to bolster its Financial Inclusion Programme, which ensures the provision of ATMs in areas of deprivation, where demand would not otherwise make one viable, and has also committed to protecting all free-to-use ATMs which are a kilometre or more from the next nearest free-to-use ATM.