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Editor's Blog
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Best Christmas Present For Us All? No Business Rates On ANY ATMs!

There was a surprise news item on Christmas Day to the effect that " charging ATMs at corner stores and petrol stations are to be phased out". The same news report indicated that  retailers would be offered Business Rate incentives to persuade them to switch ATMs from Pay-To-Use to Free-To-Use.

Giving gifts at this time of year is, of course, traditional. However, unwrapping this particular Christmas present could be tricky!

The first thing to make clear is we at Cash-is-Cool do not believe that the UK public should be given the impression that free banking is a viable expectation in the world we live in today. Banks are not the profit-making " machines" they were a decade ago. They cannot therefore afford to grant free gifts to some customers without, at the same time, asking other customers to pay more to subsidize the apparent philanthropy.

IT IS HIGH TIME BOTH GOVERNMENT AND REGULATORS STOPPED PRETENDING FREE BANKING IS AFFORDABLE. MANY BANKS HAVE MADE CLEAR IT IS NOT. WE NEED SIMILAR TRANSPARENCY IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER.

Moving on to specific measures impacting ATMs, it has to be recognized that, although there are around 20,000 Pay-To-Use cash machines in the UK, they only account for 2.5% of all cash withdrawals made each year. In short, they are not a major issue. This is underlined by the fact that, even where charges are made, the average paid is £1.70. This is roughly the price of a half pint of beer. Not exactly a "budget buster" for the majority of us.

The reason the number of paid for cash withdrawals is so low is, of course, because most of us have far better access to Free-To-Use ATMs than we have ever enjoyed before. With 50,000 machines now offering access to cash without the payment of direct charges, the public now have twice as many such ATMs to chose to use than 15 years ago.

Despite the significant grow in ATM numbers, there is room for more machines to further improve the publics access to cash in the UK. Cash is still used for over 50% of all retail purchases in this country and over 7 million of us rely on cash as our sole method of payment as we go about our daily lives. Good access to cash is therefore vital.

One of the factors inhibiting further growth in ATM numbers - and therefore more convenient access to cash - has been the imposition of Business Rates on Through The Wall ATMs ( the ones that allow 24/7 cash withdrawals). Cash-is-Cool and others have been telling the Government for a very long time that this is threatening to derail further increases in ATM numbers and may even lead to the deinstallation of some machines.

What is needed is a clear statement from Central Government that Business Rates should NOT be levied on any ATMs. Such a step would automatically make  the provision of 24/7 Free-To-Use  ATMs  more attractive to ATM operators. Further incentives to reduce Business Rates on retail premises to encourage shopkeepers to install Free-To-Use ATMs are, of course, also welcome BUT very much as a secondary measure, once the Business Rate burden has been lifted from all existing ATMs.

No doubt more "news" on this subject will emerge in the next few days. The ending of the imposition of Business Rates on any ATM is really what we all need to hear, to give us a great start to 2015!

Friday, 26th December 2014

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