Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 13th September 2018
As many as 250 free-to-use cash machines are being closed across the UK every month and the consequences could be bad for small businesses in many parts of the country.
That’s according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which is concerned that a lack of access to cash could lead to payment card companies upping their charges to business customers.
The fear is that fewer cash machines will make businesses increasingly reliant on card payments and vulnerable to charge rises from the third party companies who handle those transactions.
Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national chairman, has described access to cash as being “vital” to small companies and particularly those in rural or hard-to-reach areas of the country.
According to Link, the cash machine network organisation, there was a fall of 1,300 in the total number of free-to-use ATMs in use across the UK between the end of January and the beginning of July this year.
There are still more than 53,000 free cash machines in use nationwide but there are concerns about the trends currently in evidence, with consumers generally becoming less and less reliant on cash and ATMs.
“Link assured cashpoint users that closures wouldn’t take place in areas where the next nearest free-to-use ATM is more than 1km away, but 76 of these have closed in the first half of 2018,” said Mr Cherry in a statement.
“Coupled with the continued stream of bank branch closures throughout the country, all too often it is small businesses who are being hurt the most by these changes.
“A reduced access to cash via ATMs and bank branches is only giving card payment companies free reign to increase the charges they place onto small firms.”
Part of the reason why so many cash machines are disappearing in various parts of the country is that they are becoming less financially viable for the companies who operate them in certain locations as consumers use cash less and less frequently.
Of particular concern to politicians and others is that people living in rural communities might soon be left finding it very difficult to get hold of cash without having to travel a long way to retrieve it.