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Six in 10 free cash machines will have disappeared from the UK’s high streets by the end of the decade as Brits go cashless, research finds


  • Some 23,000 ATMs are set to close, amid a decline in banks on UK high streets 

Six in ten free cash machines on the High Street will have been ripped out by the end of the decade as Britons go cashless, according to the cash machine network group Link.

Some 23,000 ATMs are expected to close, bringing the number down from 38,000 to 15,000, said Link chief executive John Howells. Five years ago, there were 50,000 free ATMs.

The decline follows a rapid retreat of bank branches from UK high streets, as banks rip out cash machines when they abandon communities. 

Since the start of last year 1,250 bank branches have been shut or put on notice of closure, according to Link. Last week alone, Lloyds Banking Group announced a further 45 branches are to be axed by August next year.

Howells said: ‘As more people use digital and contactless payments, cash machine use will continue to fall. ATMs will close in busy high streets where there are already many free cash machines. But we will continue to protect free access, including in quiet and rural areas.’ 

As many as 23,000 free cash machines are expected to close by the end of the decade, amid a rapid decline in bank branches on UK high streets (Stock Image)

As many as 23,000 free cash machines are expected to close by the end of the decade, amid a rapid decline in bank branches on UK high streets (Stock Image)

Banking hubs, where banks share the same premises to offer a service in communities already turned into 'banking deserts', have been touted as a possible solution, but just 30 out of 100 planned hubs will have opened by Christmas (Stock Image)

Banking hubs, where banks share the same premises to offer a service in communities already turned into ‘banking deserts’, have been touted as a possible solution, but just 30 out of 100 planned hubs will have opened by Christmas (Stock Image)

The ATM network costs about £420million a year to operate, with £400million spent on the equipment and £20million covering Link and other running costs.

The not-for-profit body Cash Access UK – which is funded by High Street banks – says up to six million people, many of them vulnerable, rely on cash for their day-to-day spending needs. Taking away ATMs will make it harder for them to get cash to help them budget.

Ron Delnevo, chair of action group Payment Choice Alliance and not-for-profit body Cash Supply Alliance, said: ‘It is wrong to suggest there are too many ATMs at the moment – as they are a vital lifeline for providing access to cash. Banks are forcing us towards becoming a cashless society. More must be done to protect our right for access to cash to stop the closure of banks and ATMs.’ 

Banking hubs, where banks share the same premises to offer a service in communities already turned into ‘banking deserts’, have been touted as a possible saviour by Link. 

But despite 100 hubs being announced in recent years, only 30 will have opened by Christmas.



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