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Fears grow free-to-use cash machines will disappear

Large sections of the country could be left in 'ATM deserts' after experts fear free cash machines could be removed from local communities.  

The UK Link network is considering plans to protect the free-to-use ATM machines to avert any potential shortages.

The proposals follow a row over the funding of cash dispensers - and warnings that consumers face the possibility of more machines charging them to withdraw money, or disappearing altogether.

Industry experts fear free-to-use cash machines may become more scarce, file photograph

Industry experts fear free-to-use cash machines may become more scarce, file photograph

ATM operators receive a fee from banks and building societies for providing free machines

ATM operators receive a fee from banks and building societies for providing free machines

A body representing ATM operators warned that Link's proposals could lead to 'a vast reduction in free access to cash' and 'ATM deserts'.

The row centres around interchange fees paid by card issuers such as banks and building societies to ATM operators. The interchange fee funds the free-to-use ATM network.

Responsibility for setting the interchange rate rests with the Link Board, which has a public interest remit.

The plans outlined by Link on Wednesday include a reduction in interchange rates over the next four years, from around 25p to 20p per withdrawal.

Link said the plans will help to retain an extensive network of free ATMs for consumers.

It said ATM numbers have been growing over recent years, despite declining consumer demand for cash for payments at a time when people are increasingly paying by contactless, for

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