Cash machine network provider Link has set aside £1m under a new Community Access to Cash Delivery Fund, to install between 40 and 50 cash machines at the request of areas with poor access to ATMs across the UK.
The fund aims to help protect local high streets and vulnerable consumers by allowing local communities to apply for a ‘free’ cash machine through their MP, local council, or by requesting help directly from Link.
However, applicants must include the distance to their nearest free ATM as part of their request for a free-to-use machine as well as disclosing whether there is a post office nearby.
What’s more, applicants must outline whether there is a suitable location for a new cash machine, with pubs found at the heart of more isolated communities highlighted as a prime location provided they offer a strong enough internet connection.
“Pubs are ideal,” a spokesperson from Link told The Morning Advertiser. “If the landlord is willing to host it internally that makes life a lot easier from a planning permission perspective. With the installation of an ATM, there’s a planning permission part and, because it needs connecting online, there's broadband as well.
“Once those hurdles are jumped, as long as it meets the criteria of there not being another ATM nearby or there isn’t a post office within 1km, then if someone thinks a pub is a good place to host an ATM we'd be happy to hear from them.”
As reported by The Morning Advertiser, rural pubs could also potentially benefit from the rollout of 5G networks – offering mobile internet speeds 10 to 20 times faster than previous generations – following the launch of the £30m UK-wide Rural Connected Communities competition by digital secretary Nicky Morgan in August.
Solving cash access issues
According to a report published by banking trade body UK Finance, there were 52,358 free-to-use cash machines operating in the UK at the end of 2018, with a further 11,002 pay-to-use cash points available.
If Link’s scheme to install 40 to 50 more machines proves popular, additional funds could be made available to provide more ATMs.
“This is an important development that will allow communities to directly contact Link and get things done to help consumers,” Link CEO John Howells added.
“Link is looking forward to getting the first requests for ATMs so we can help solve access to cash issues across the whole UK.”
Future of cash payments
Despite a total of 2.4bn withdrawals being made from cash machines last year – totalling £193bn – the pub trade is witnessing the rise of alternative payments.
In June 2018, The Morning Advertiser reported that a 14% increase in the number of debit card payments meant that they outnumbered the number of cash transactions in the UK for the first time ever.
In September 2018, the Boot in Freston, near Ipswich in Suffolk, claimed to become the first pub in the UK to stop taking cash payments, with a number of outlets even branching out to accept payments made by cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or finger vein scanning technology.