Falling number of free cash machines is a bonanza for banks

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Britons paid £104million to withdraw their own money last year after the falling number of free cash machines meant many had to use ATMs that charge fees.

The figure was up around 260 per cent from £29million the previous year as banks shift costs from themselves to customers.

Details were revealed by consumer experts Which? amid concerns that banks are effectively forcing customers to switch from cash to cards and mobile phone apps.

Experts at Which? calculate the mass closure of free-to-use machines has saved banks £120million in admin charges and fees in the last two years. 

But the loss of free-to-use machines is taking its toll on thousands, as Britain sleepwalks towards a cashless society.

Previous research by the group found people living in 259 areas across the UK struggle to get hold of notes to carry out simple tasks such as buy a pint of milk or pay a bus fare.

More than 8,700 free ATMs have closed since changes to how the cashpoint network is funded were pushed through in January 2018.

There has been a 37 per cent increase in the number of machines that charge up to £2 per withdrawal – from 11,120 to 15,277. As a result, they now make up a quarter of the entire network of 60,291 machines.

These changes have seen the number of times people have had to pay to withdraw cash increase from 46million in 2018 to 73million in 2019 – a 59 per cent rise in a single year.

By 2028, cash use is expected to plummet even further to account for just 9 per cent of all payments.

But Stephen Jones, of banking body UK Finance, said: ‘Cash use is declining dramatically as customers turn to safer and more convenient ways to pay, such as contactless cards, and the industry is investing heavily in these new technologies to meet customer demand.’

 

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