Free-to-use ATMs have a “vital role” to play in the lives of most people and communities in Scotland, according to a UK consumer group.
In response to concerns about a decline in availability of free ATMs, Which? has emphasized the importance of this provision for consumers and businesses all over the country.
LINK, the UK’s largest cash machine network, is considering proposals to lower interchange fees paid by banks to ATM operators, reducing the chance that networks will remain free-to-use for customers.
A survey by Which? revealed that nine out of ten people in Scotland (89 percent) see free cash machines as important to their everyday lives. Half (51 percent) of this group said they are “essential” for day-to-day living.
More than six out of ten respondents (62 percent) said they use an ATM at least once a week.
Other findings showed that a fifth (19 percent) of people in rural Scottish communities believe their nearest free cash machine is already outside walking distance. Only three percent of those living in urban areas felt this way.
Which? warned that a reduction in the free-to-use ATM network could have a “devastating impact” on remote towns and villages, as well as many small businesses throughout Scotland.
Gareth Shaw, money expert at the consumer group, said: “It’s clear that free-to-use cashpoints play a vital role for the majority of Scottish people and that some, particularly in rural communities, face substantial challenges to accessing cash.
“We are calling on the financial regulator to conduct an urgent review to ensure that people aren’t left isolated and can access the cash they need.”
Andy Willox, Scottish policy convenor at the Federation of Small Businesses, said cash “is still king” in Scotland’s economy, adding that it is “no surprise” consumers would be less likely to use local businesses that only accept cash if free ATMs were to close.