Scores of free-to-use cash machines are due to be scrapped from the UK’s high streets, as part of a Post Office initiative to invest in upgraded ATMs.
The £16m ($20.9m) scheme will result in the Post Office owning and operating 1,400 free-to-use machines, fitted with the latest technology.
As part of this, there will be 600 fewer machines on offer for British consumers. These will be phased out by March 2022.
The Post Office said it was “In one of the largest investment programmes in the ATM market by any organisation or company for over a decade.”
“This is a significant demonstration of Post Office’s commitment to ensuring that anyone who wants cash can get it whichever way is most convenient.”
It also said the investment will be focused on maintaining and upgrading existing cash machines, and has not ruled out operating more in the future when the new tech is in place.
“Our estate of Post Office owned and operated ATMs will see postmasters operating some of the most modern and secure ATMs in the market,” said Post Office’s banking services director, Martin Kearsley. “We have also identified almost 60 locations where we have decided to retain a free to access ATM despite it not being commercially viable.”
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Kearsley also said that the company will offer free over the counter cash withdrawals in areas where ATMs weren’t deemed commercially viable.
“Many of our branches are open long hours and at weekends, ensuring continued access to cash,” he said.
Among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up a move away from cash, with people preferring to use card to prevent transmission of the virus.
In February, panel members behind the Access to Cash Review, which published its final report in 2019, said legislation is needed to protect cash for as long as people need it.
They said that in the 12 months since the final review, while some progress has been made, significant issues within the cash infrastructure remain.
From February 2019 to February 2020, 13% of free-to-use UK ATMs had closed, as lower levels of cash use have made them economically unviable. A quarter (25%) of ATMs now charge people to withdraw their cash.
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