News & Views - Savantor

Protection of the vulnerable in a digital society

Thursday, 16 May 2019

The consumer organisation Which? published figures this month highlighting that whilst the number of free-to-use ATMs has been steadily declining, in March the numbers dropped sharply with 1,250 ATM’s switching to charging fees in that one month alone.

Figures obtained by Which? from Link show that at the beginning of 2019, there were around 52,000 free-to-use ATMs in the UK. However, around 1,700 were converted to pay-to-use in the first three months of the year, with at least 1,250 switching over in the month of March. This represents a reduction of about 2.5% in a single month and shows a steep acceleration in the ongoing decline of the free cashpoint network.

Two of Britain’s two largest cashpoint operators, Cardtronics and NoteMachine, told Which? that things are likely to get even worse as a further 5,000 free-to-use machines have been identified that could be switched to fee-charging in the coming months. Taking into account other expected losses, Which? warns that this would see there being around 15% fewer free-to-use cashpoints by the end of the year.

The significance of this decrease is the impact this will have on those who can afford it least, with society’s most vulnerable being worst hit by reduced access to cash. In spite of the rise in popularity of digital payments, according to Which? around 2.2 million people are almost entirely reliant on cash in their daily lives.

Bank branch closures, changes to the way the industry is funded and a reduction in the demand for cash have all contributed to the decline in free-to-use ATMs, which Link has previously said is consistent with falling demand for cash.

However, as the loss of cash machines is a significant cause of reduced ATM withdrawals, it can be seen to be rather a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Which? is petitioning the government to intervene and appoint a regulator who can ensure that both cashpoint funding and wider cash access are planned and managed with consumer interest as a priority.

At the same time, the Treasury Committee has published a report saying that free-to-use ATMs and bank branches should be legally preserved with a new watchdog set up to prevent closures denying people access to cash. It is proposing a guarantee to ensure a right to access cash, potentially enforced by a legal duty of care on banks.

The Committee warns that if no action is taken, the UK risks becoming a cashless society which would have stark consequences on some of its most vulnerable members.

Whilst a cashless society may be seen by many as an ideal for which to strive, it should not be to the detriment of its weakest members. Such a change needs to be carefully managed to ensure that it does not lead to the financial exclusion of the vulnerable. 

Savantor Services

Savantor Services

Savantor services are tailored to Client needs based on our core service areas

Specialist Resourcing Payments Strategy Platform Transition Operational Efficiency
Savantor Services

Job Opportunities

Consulting and contracting roles in the payments, mobile and banking arena within the UK and across Europe

View more
Savantor Services

Savantor Views

Find out more from our Savantor brochures, MarketEye back copies and Industry opinion

Collateral Market Eye News & Views Sign Up to receive MarketEye

Client Quotes

Credit Risk Review for New Product Launch

"We needed expert help at short notice and Savantor were very impressive in their response and knowledge. The results were very clear and useful, enabling us to quickly make good progress on the next steps."

Sami Karhunen, Head of Business Intelligence and SME Sales - Point Transaction Systems Oy - Finland

Card Processing Migration

"Disciplined methodology and effective teamwork, guided by Savantor's migration expertise and operational knowledge, were the hallmarks that led to the resounding success of this project, enabling us to maintain and develop our business capability."

Robert Lambert, Head of Cards Strategy - Permanent tsb bank - Ireland

EMV Migration Planning

"It was a strategic imperative for the bank to be EMV compliant for our payment cards and the experience that Savantor brought to the company has proved to be invaluable."

Eddie Sweeney, Chief Technology Officer - AIB Bank - Ireland

Card Migration

"I was impressed by the speed with which the Savantor team were able to start delivering and as a team they have made a significant contribution to the success of the Programme."

Bjorn Niels, Programme Director - ABN AMRO Bank - The Netherland

Moneris Solutions

"Savantor did an outstanding job of the review and I received nothing but positive feedback on the interaction with our management team."

Jeff Guthri, COO - Moneris Solutions - Canada

Platform Selection

"Savantor's support in our platform selection process has enabled us to sustain our profitability and positioning for the future. Their advice and guidance was essential to our decision-making."

Robert Lambert, Head of Cards Strategy - Permanent tsb bank - Ireland

Acquirer Risk Assessment

"The expertise provided by Savantor has greatly helped us evaluate our risk position and to take the right steps in managing our future risks. Strong, disciplined planning and an ongoing willingness to work closely with our staff played an enormous part in making this a very successful well-delivered project which will greatly help us in achieving our business goals."

Mark Healy, Chief Risk Officer - NEOVIA Financial - UK

Commercial Card Migration

"Execution at its best. We're delighted that this project has been truly outstanding and received an award from 'The Banker'. Savantor provided crucial expertise that helped us keep all our promises in terms of delivery. The scheduling, planning and control regime throughout was excellent."

Chris Mason, Director - Commercial Cards EMEA - Citi - UK

Clients - Request Support

Send us a support request and one of our specialists will be in contact to assist you.

Consultants – Upload your CV

Register your CV with us and gain access to a range of job opportunities through our online job search portal.