Like many Brits and Americans, I spend my money using a mix of payment methods, and I like it that way! I flit between cash and contactless1 , but often with contactless I’m hit with a sudden pang of the “shopping guilts.” Thoughts of “How much have I spent this month?” And “Am I over my spending limit?” run through my mind. Budgeting seems to go out of the window. But, however I choose to spend my money, I always need and want access to cash and my first port of call is my local ATM.
These days, as more and more bank branches close in the UK, and the world of payments moves ever more digital, it can sometimes be tricky to find my “local” ATM – particularly so for folks in rural towns and villages. According to figures by the Campaign for Community Banking Services (CCBS), the accelerating closure rate of UK high street banks has seen 650 branches disappear in 2015, out of which an estimated 177 were the “last bank in town.” Meanwhile, the number of cash machines operated by independent ATM operators in the UK has surpassed the number of those maintained by banks and building societies in 2014 for the first time, according to industry body Payments UK.
Historically, if bank branches closed, local residents would end up having to drive or take the bus to the next town, to access banking services in a branch. And this was looking likely for residents of the well-known town of Glastonbury, England in February of this year. That was until local people, shops and politicians voiced their concerns
over the impact of the town losing its ATMs.
Cardtronics UK, operator of Cashzone ATMs, and the UK’s largest independent ATM operator, took up the challenge and started working closely with local businesses, stakeholders and other businesses, to try and find a suitable site for a new cash machine.
By working in partnership with the last bank in town, Cardtronics identified a prime location for two new surcharge-free cash machines and successfully installed these ATMs
in Glastonbury’s Radstock Co-operative Society’s store on the high street2
- one inside the store and one facing the street through the shop-front. This 24-hour service will support local consumers and businesses with convenient access to cash where and when they need it.
“Glastonbury is the latest example of local communities and businesses joining forces to preserve people’s access to cash by installing cash machines within local shops after the last bank in town has shut its doors,” Tim Halford, Commercial Director of Cardtronics UK, commented. “However, even these sites are at risk in many locations because of the hefty business rates bills3 that retailers have to pay for their ATMs while banks don’t. As such, it is now more important than ever that we rally to support local communities to keep their high streets and town centres alive and thriving.”
“We are delighted that Cardtronics UK has agreed to the installation of the ATM machines following our approach to them shortly after we heard the news about the bank closures,” said Neil Smith, Store Manager of Radstock Co-operative Society’s Glastonbury store. “With the new ATM service, we are able to offer our customers the vital convenience of shopping where they can also access their money easily. We are sure this won’t just be an added plus for our own business, but it will strengthen footfall and spend for the entire high street of Glastonbury.”
What the Glastonbury story tells me is, people want and need cash, and that cash is here to stay. Personally speaking, I will always like having the choice of how to pay for things and, just like the people of Glastonbury, my local ATM is important to me. Long live the cashpoint!
Claire FlawnCardtronics Europe
Head of Marketing
1 Contactless payments use a secure method for purchases via debit, credit or smartcards (also known as chip cards), by using radio-frequency identification technology (RFID). To make a contactless payment, a person simply taps their card near a point-of-sale terminal. In the UK, a PIN is required for contactless payments above £30.
2 The high street is the main business and shopping district in British cities and towns; the major road in these areas is often named “High Street.” It’s as ubiquitous and similar to the traditional “Main Street” in the U.S.
3Business rates bills are similar to business taxes in the U.S.