More Borderers face the prospect of having to pay fees to withdraw money from cashpoints now NoteMachine, the UK’s second biggest ATM firm, has announced plans to introduce charges at hundreds of machines currently free to use.
Cash machines in Hawick, Jedburgh and Galashiels are among those potentially affected.
The Welsh company plans to start charging for using around 3,000 of its 7,000 ATMs over a 10-week period, leaving increasing numbers of customers facing the choice of having to pay for the privilege of accessing their own money or travelling further afield to cashpoints still free to use.
Three NoteMachine ATMs in Hawick – at its Morrisons and B&M stores and in Havelock Street – could be among those set to start requiring payment for use, along with two in Jedburgh, in Lothian Road and at the Edinburgh Road Shell garage, and one in Galashiels, at the Spar shop in Marigold Bank.
That move has been prompted by Link, the company in charge of most of the UK’s ATM network, reducing the interchange fee it pays per transaction.
Borders MP John Lamont has hit out at the move and is urging NoteMachine chief executive Peter McNamara to reconsider his plans.
“This is really disappointing news that could hit cash machines across the Borders,” he said.
“I have spoken to NoteMachine about this and will be meeting their chief executive soon to urge them to rethink their approach.
“Not only is it unfair for people to have to pay to get their own money, the way NoteMachine is rolling this change out is all wrong.
“By charging for less-used cash machines, rural areas like the Borders will inevitably be hit first.
“While habits are changing, rural communities still need access to cash, and the loss of free ATMs can be a big blow for local businesses.
“I also think it’s time the UK Government stepped in to see what it can do to help protect access to cash, particularly in rural areas like the Borders.”
Mr McNamara says Link’s interchange fee cuts mean his firm has no choice but to start charging, however.
“The extraordinary pressures placed on ATM providers following successive cuts to the Link interchange fee has meant maintaining free-to-use ATMs has become economically unviable,” he said.
“For years, we have operated a free-to-use strategy, with around 98% of our machines being free for those wanting to withdraw cash.
“Since the cuts to the fee, though we have tried to maintain this strategy, so unviable has the situation become to run these machines on a free-to-use basis, that we are left with no choice but to start converting a portion of our machines to pay-to-use.
“This is necessary if our estate is to remain economically viable.
“To mitigate the potential impacts of this, we will be doing our utmost to keep our machines’ fees minimal, amounting to around 99p per transaction in the first instance.
“Conversion of these machines will happen over a 10-week period, meaning around 300 machines converting a week, starting with the machines that experience the lowest level of footfall and, therefore, the lowest number of transactions.
“We will aim to protect for as long as possible our machines that people rely on most to access cash freely.”