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Say Goodbye To Free Atms (And Possibly Cash Altogether)

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Canary42 | 02:45 Mon 04th Dec 2023 | Personal Finance
22 Answers

There are some interesting stats in the article which I reproduce (with my italics) here. It shows the decline in cash usage (claiming it is customer driven, but I have some doubts - perhaps they're being pushed by bank branch closures etc etc.)  The final paragraph is a bit chilling IMHO.

For the usual doubting linkaholics I also provide the link at the end.

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Britain will lose 23,000 free-to-use cash machines in less than 10 years as credit and debit cards become the default payment method, the boss of the UK’s ATM network has warned.

Cash use will soon be as rare as cheques, which make up less than 1pc of payments, and 6 in 10 high street cash machines will disappear as a result, according to John Howells, chief executive of Link.

Mr Howells said the number of free-to-use cash machines will slump from 38,000 to 15,000 over the next few years as banks remove duplicate machines on high streets.

This will be 70pc less than in 2018, when the UK had 50,000 free ATMs.

Mr Howells said: “We have got duplication of free ATMs in busy high streets, so there is a lot of saving that can be done without affecting consumers at all. That will save the banks money and allow the ATM operators to be profitable.”

The UK’s ATM network costs around £420m a year to run, £400m of which is the cost of the machines themselves while around £20m covers running Link and the tech infrastructure it provides.

Link is owned by the industry so banks foot the bill, but cash machine use is falling every month. The system needs to be streamlined to continue to offer good value for the banks, Mr Howells said.

Ten years ago, 6 in 10 payments were made in cash. Today, the share is just 1 in 10. By the end of this decade, the figure will be 1 in 20, Mr Howells said.

This is because consumers and businesses are driving a mass transition to digital payments, he said.

But it means the 3.1 million people who still use cash for almost every payment that they make, many of them elderly, are at risk of being excluded from the economy.

The Government has taken steps to guarantee access to free cash machines through the 2023 Financial Services and Markets Act, but Mr Howells urged it to go further.

“Car parking is the canary in the coal mine of what will happen if we don’t get a grip on this,” he added.

Local authorities’ adoption of digital apps to pay for parking has sparked widespread complaints across the country and left many older people unable to pay for parking.

“Nevermind the fact that these apps in most car parks I don’t think are safe to use. Somebody’s stuck a number on a wall in a carpark and you give them your credit card number. That’s absolutely nuts.”

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As long as they do what they say and only remove duplicate cash points I don't see a problem.

There are currently 4 free to use cash points in local very small shopping area, they are all free to everyone regardless of who they bank with so it would make sense to remove two.

Also I can get cash over the counter at the post office (in that row of shops) although I don't have a post office account

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I went round to my nearest one earlier this evening and  . . . . it wasn't working.  The next nearest is a bus ride away, as is the nearest P O.


What's that?

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There are local businesses which I use, one won't take cash, one won't take cards.

The "no cash" scenario is left over from the pandemic, and some businesses found it so much easier they just carried on.

I generally refuse to patronise businesses that don't take cards.  The only exception I make is for a local burger van but, even though she doesn't take cards, the owner there still accepts bank transfer as a way to pay her (with many people choosing to use that method).

I only need to use an ATM once or twice per year at the very most.  Even if the three that are in our little town (pop. approx 4500) were all to disappear, I could still use the cashback facility at the Co-op down the road or simply withdraw cash from my bank account over the counter at the local Post Office branch.

I love cash, I can count it like Scrooge McDuck and Mrs Oz doesn't know how much I waste.



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Don't get me wong, I'm not pushing the case for cash, I do generally pay by card myself.  It was the statistics in that article which interested me and is why I posted it.  But my eyesight is declining and I do sometimes struggle to check the right amount is showing on the machine before I swipe. And for the same rason I always get a receipt.

Receipts can be very useful, Canary42. 

I was particularly glad that I'd kept one when the Woolwich Building Society tried to repossess my home because I'd allegedly not been keeping up with my mortgage repayments, despite the fact that I'd paid them over £30k several months earlier to pay the mortgage off!

Not exactly what the thread is about but whenever we get £2 coins we keep them until we have £100 of them.  When we take them to the bank to put into account the teller takes them off us, changes them into notes then gives the notes back to us so that we can go to the ATM and put them in ourselves.  Even paying bills these days the bank expects us to do it ourselves at the ATM.  Cant the people in the banks see that they are doing themselves out of a job.  It seems the days of going in and if there is no one waiting to be served, having a chat have gone as they just direct you to the ATM.

I always use cash. Well, not always, but I reckon 95% of the time. I use the personal service at the bank but I have to go into Manchester city centre now to do that as all the local branches have closed down the service counters. It's cash for me!

Nothing beats the joy of standing in the queue while an app loads on a phone or watch.

You can sense the pride in the soooo modern and cutting edge transactioneer.

Cash all day long thanks.

Nothing beats the joy of standing in a queue while the woman at the front searches her bag and pockets for her purse then spends an age counting at the notes and coins.

Quick swipe of my card and I'm done. 

There is a place for cash and cards and will be for sometime to come.

Personally I never use a card in a pub, had a bad experience of that in the champaign bars in the City during the late80's/early 90's on my Gold Amex.

As for free banking, I have to say I find it astonishing this still prevails.  I suspect it will go along with Bank branches and many ATM's at some point.

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Nothing beats sitting at home doing it all on the net and getting it delivered (especially useful if you're banned from driving) 😀

The problems arise when the card system goes down. I frequent a bar sometimes in the local leisure centre and I was there once and there was a whole scrum of youngsters with cards to buy their half of shandy but the card machine was down so I asked the barman for a pint with a note in my hand, the envy was palpable! I do use a card a lot more now but I always have bangers and mash on board just in case!

// “Nevermind the fact that these apps in most car parks I don’t think are safe to use. Somebody’s stuck a number on a wall in a carpark and you give them your credit card number. That’s absolutely nuts.” //


Canary, I'm not sure using the words beating and the net in the same sentence is a particularly good idea.  Some might get the wrong end of the stick, so to speak.

Back in the real world though, the disappearance of cash will happen right after that of FM radio and the internal combustion engine.

It's all just chat from those who 'know'.

They may phase out the Gregories but the old bangers will be with us for a long time yet.

Pork pie hat.

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