ACS welcomes Treasury launching group to safeguard access to cash

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the creation of a new group chaired by the Treasury which has been set up to safeguard consumers’ access to cash.

In addition to the new Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group, which will bring together regulators, the Treasury and the Bank of England, the Government has committed to the following as part of its response to a call for evidence on cash and the digital economy:

> supporting the Bank of England's work to develop a new wholesale cash distribution system to ensure cash is being distributed as needed across the country
> developing a new coin checking and validation framework to remove counterfeits from circulation and stop them from ending up in people's pockets
> reiterating that there are no plans to alter the make-up of coins or notes and that current cash denominations will continue in its current form
> continuing to support new digital methods of payment while safeguarding access to cash for those who need it

Earlier this week, new figures from consumer group Which? found that fees of at least 95p per withdrawal have been imposed on 1,700 cash machines between January and March this year. Which? report that around three quarters of these fees have been introduced in March alone.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the creation of the new Cash Strategy Group, which must address as a matter of urgency the significant loss of free to use ATMs in recent months. LINK’s cuts to interchange fees have been the catalyst for hundreds of machines to either move from free to use to a charged model, or be removed altogether, and this trend must be reversed.”

The Payment Systems Regulator is currently considering evidence ahead of the publication of an interim report at the end of 2019. In its annual plan, published in March, the regulator set out a number of priority areas, including ‘monitoring the impact of LINK’s cut to interchange fees on the UK’s network of free to use ATMs’. ACS is working closely with the regulator to provide information about the provision of ATMs in convenience stores.