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Number of free-to-use cash machines could be cut

There are currently more than 70,000 ATMs across the country. Credit: PA

The number of free-to-use cash machines could reduce in the UK as part of plans to cut the fee paid by card issuers to ATM operators.

The proposals are a result of a predicted fall in demand for cash as people use contactless and online payments more regularly.

LINK, the UK cash machine network behind the plans, is consulting its members on reducing the interchange fee from around 25p to 20p per cash withdrawal over the next four years.

It says any reduction in free ATMs would only affect areas where there is already a large number of the machines close together.

Currently around 80% of free-to-use ATMs in the UK are within 300 meters of another one, according to LINK.

Its proposals include "maintaining the present geographical spread of ATMs, with any reduction in the number of ATMs intended to be in areas where there are currently multiple ATMs very close together".

Demand for cash is expected to fall as people use contactless more. Credit: PA

There are currently more than 70,000 ATMs across the country, around 80% of which are free-to-use.

UK Finance predicts that over the next decade, the number of cash payments will fall by 43% to 8.7 billion payments.

In a statement, LINK said:"The proposed changes are a result of a predicted fall in consumers’ demand for cash for payments as they increasingly move to alternatives such as contactless and online payments."

John Howells, the company's CEO, added: “LINK is committed to maintaining an extensive network of free-to-use cash machines.

"Free access to cash is vital for UK consumers and LINK intends to maintain this for many years to come.”