In a blow to those who believe a cashless society is near, the UK Treasury Committee has held an evidence session with the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), in which Rt Hon. Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the Committee, asked about the future of the UK’s ATM network.
During the session, Charles Randell, Chair of the PSR, said that the whole system of access to cash needs to be looked at afresh, and that the PSR board will indeed look at the entire infrastructure of cash provision.
Mr Randell said that there “is a need to guarantee access to free-to-use ATMs, but with changes to the way people are using cash and contactless payments affecting the economics of the cash distribution industry, we need to have a debate this year about whether access to cash should be a universal service, rather than a commercial one”.
Commenting on the evidence session, Mrs Morgan said: “Whilst cash may no longer be king, it continues to play an important role in the lives of millions. So what we’ve heard today from the PSR should set alarm bells ringing. It’s clear that the whole way that people access their cash via ATMs is starting to fail.
“Mr Randell suggested that there is a serious discussion to be had this year about whether access to such a basic financial service should be universal, or commercially driven.
“With the way that people access their cash seemingly on the precipice of collapsing, the Government can’t just bury its head in the sand. This mustn’t fall through the gaps of responsibility – the Government and regulators should get a grip of this problem before the whole arrangement collapses.”
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