ATM network operator Link has pulled back from a plan for a progressive ramping up of interchange fees after outrage from consumer groups over an apparent acceleration in ATM closures across the UK.
In January 2018, Link announced a phased 20% per cent reduction in Interchange rates over four years, from around 25p to 20p. The first five percent cut took effect on 1 July 2018 and the second is scheduled to take place on 1 January 2019.
The introduction of the first set of fees earlier this month led to calls from consumer groups for regulatory intervention to halt the closure of cash machines across the UK as banks and convenience stores re-assess the commercial viability of their networks under the new charging model.
But it appears that a dip in ATM usage as consumers turn away from cash, rather than political uproar, has caused a rethink at Link.
A decision to cancel the third reduction, due in January 2020 and put on hold the fourth cut, due in January 2021, has been prompted by figures showing a six percent year-on-year fall in the volume of ATM transactions.
John Howells, chief executive of Link says: “Many consumers are turning to alternatives to cash more quickly than expected and usage of ATMs is now dropping at sic percent per annum. Link will therefore adjust interchange to maintain free-to-use coverage in line with our commitments to the public and to our participants.”