Hundreds of cashpoints across Scotland could be saved as LINK agreed to put its cost-cutting plan on hold.
The announcement is a victory for the joint campaign between Which? and the Federation of Small Businesses, and comes following a debate in the Scottish Parliament led by Dean Lockhart.
LINK, the UK’s largest overseer of free-to-use ATMS, had planned to cut the interchange fee by 20% over four years.
This fee is paid by card issuers to ATM operators and its reduction would have had a significant impact on the funding of cash points and has the potential to put many at risk.
With many rural and deprived communities across Scotland relying on easy access to their cash, Dean used his members business debate to call on the Payment Services Regulator to step in immediately to stop these plans.
The so-called ATM interchange fee was cut from 25p to 23.75p on July 1. The next reduction, from 23.75p to 22.5p, is planned for January next year and will go ahead. But the announcement means the third cut – to 21.25p in January 2020 – has been cancelled.
The fourth reduction, taking the fees down to 20p, is now on hold, pending a review.
Dean has welcomed the decision but says that LINK must now listen to rural communities and pause all of the planned reductions.
Dean Lockhart MSP said:
‘’I am pleased that LINK have now recognised the issues which I have been raising and paused some of their plans to cut access to free cash.
‘’At a time when bank closures increase across Scotland, so too does the reliance on free-to-use ATMs.
‘’Demand for cash still remains high, especially in rural and deprived communities and these facilities often act as a crucial replacement for the lack of banking services.
‘’A root and branch review of how people use cash is now needed, and I call on LINK to pause all the proposed cuts to the interchange fee until this is carried out.’’