Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cashpoints Should Be Supported by Banks. Instead They Are Hiding Plans to Close Them

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cashpoints Should Be Supported by Banks. Instead They Are Hiding Plans to Close Them

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon English

ONCE in a while, it's tempting to think that the banking industry has had enough of a kicking these last 10 years, and has now surely learnt its lesson. Then it does something crashingly insensitive, revealing yet again how little it cares for us, how much it underestimates public anger at banks.

So it seems to be with cashpoints. Link, the ATM network, is in the midst of a shake-up of how that network is funded which some warn could lead to around 10,000 of the 55,000 free-to-use machines closing.

Banks don't like having to pay the "interchange fees" to the independent operators that now run thousands of the machines, and want those fees slashed. Link's consultation has been conducted in private, and the bank's views are "commercially confidential" and so will remain secret.

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to think that it is highly unlikely that any of the banks are fighting keen to keep the network free. They want an excuse for bad behaviour.

Former Treasury Committee chairman Lord McFall said yesterday: "Link are taking a leap in the dark with these proposals for funding the network of free-to-use ATMs. They have no idea how many free-to-use ATMs will shut down as a result, or what the impact might be on vulnerable consumers or SMEs who depend on access to cash to make and receive payments.

"The public has a right to know where each of the major banks stands on these proposals and whether they are reneging on their commitment to support a widespread network of free-to-use ATMs."

That's right. At the most fundamental level, the reason why cashpoints should be supported by banks is this: we want them and they owe us.

The banking industry remains the cockiest, least likeable of our industries, because it has such an absurdly grand view of what it does.

Done well, banking is simple. …

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