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Free access to cash is threatened, says Nationwide

11 February 2005
Nationwide Building Society has revealed the extent of the threat to the free cash machine network.

Stating that it had been approached by a charging machine operator seeking to buy its remote ATMs, Nationwide called for free cash machines to be protected and for "fairness and transparency" at fee-charging machines.

Speaking at a Treasury Select Committee hearing into fee-charging cash machines, Nationwide's executive director Stuart Bernau gave figures that pointed towards a worrying disappearance of non-charging machines.

Mr Bernau said that the number of free remote (non-branch) machines fell in 2004, and used the example of the United States - where 95 per cent of machines now charge for withdrawing cash - to illustrate what could happen to Britain.

"The suggestion that only five per cent of cash machine transactions will ever incur a fee is a misconception. Experience from the US illustrates that it could go much higher," Mr Bernau warned.

"The rising number of charging machines has serious social consequences."

Nationwide has been campaigning for five years to keep cash machines free, and believes that the improved visibility of early charge warnings at Link cash machines, due to come into effect on July 1st, does not go far enough.

Improved visibility of warnings was approved by 96 per cent of those questioned in a countrywide survey by the building society. Almost nine out of ten people were also opposed to having to pay to access their money.

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