Consumers and community groups have made more than 100 requests for free-to-use ATMs in their area, directly from operator Link in the month following the launch of a new fund.
The Community Access to Cash Delivery Fund is taking requests for free-to-use ATMs in places with poor access, and is part of measures aimed at tackling the concern that it is becoming harder for people to take out cash.
The requests so far have come from every corner of the country, with isolated rural communities, deprived urban areas and small towns all getting in touch, Link said.
If an application meets the criteria and there is a suitable location, Link will fund the new ATM directly.
There is £1m in the pot so far, but more money could be released when needed.
Applications will be looked at on a case-by-case basis, depending on factors such as distance to nearest free ATM, the availability of a nearby Post Office and site security.
If there is another free cash machine within 1km, in that particular community – and no particular geographical challenges to reaching it, applications may be unlikely to be successful.
Link said the move builds on its commitment to protect free access to cash for every high street in the UK.
Link chief executive John Howells said: “It’s great that we’ve had so much interest so far.
“Many of the applications show there are locations around the country where there is a cash access problem.
“We’ve already visited 10 of these locations and will be working hard to listen to every community that has got in touch.
“We want to hear from more communities that think they have an issue.
“Where there is a problem, Link will take action.”
In August, Link announced five new pilot sites in Battle, Bungay, Nuneaton, Tywyn in Wales, and Durness in Scotland, where a new ATM would be directly commissioned.
These new ATMs will be funded by a levy on Link’s bank and building society members.
More sites that will get a free ATM have already been identified and are in Deal, Ebbw Vale, Margate, Middleton, Wilmslow and York.
In the past couple of weeks, three new ATMs directly commissioned by Link have been installed in locations in Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
The new fund complements the existing system where commercial operators decide whether a site is profitable.
ATM and bank branch closures have fuelled concerns about access to cash.
Recent research from Which? suggested that free-to-use cash machines are vanishing more quickly in deprived areas than in affluent ones.
Which? also found that around a third of the UK’s bank branches have shut within the past five years alone.
Hundreds more that remain open have slashed their opening hours, with some just open for one or two days a week.
There were 3,303 bank branch closures, equating to 34% of the network, between January 2015 and August 2019, the consumer group previously said.
The network has reduced in size from 9,803 branches to 6,549 over the period, with the number of closures being slightly offset by 49 branches also opening.
Which? Money editor Jenny Ross said: “This is a positive step that may help to plug the gaps created by the alarming rate of bank branch and cashpoint closures across the UK – so Link must deal with requests swiftly and aim to provide free machines for all those left cut off from cash.
“But it’s clear this scheme alone won’t fix the country’s broken cash landscape.
“Appalling mismanagement by the industry and regulators has left the cash system on the brink of collapse and communities are being presented with a confusing array of schemes claiming to fix the problem.
“That’s why the government must intervene to protect cash for as long as it is needed.”