Who are LINK?
LINK is the UK’s cash machine (ATM) network and the busiest ATM transaction switch in the world. Effectively every cash machine in the UK is connected to LINK, and LINK is the only way banks and building societies can offer their customers access to cash across the whole of the UK. All the UK’s main debit and ATM card issuers are LINK Members.
The LINK Network is a fundamental part of the UK’s payments infrastructure and cash machines are by far the most popular channel for cash withdrawal in the UK, used by millions of consumers every week. The total value of LINK cash withdrawals can exceed £10 billion per month and at its busiest, LINK processes over 22,000 transactions a minute.
Seven things you should know about LINK
The LINK Consumer Council has published its latest Annual Report – available here – the report sets out the work of the Consumer Council in developing LINK’s financial inclusion programme.
The Consumer Council has overseen LINK’s financial inclusion programme, delved into regional features of cash access, and supported the continued rollout of cash at the till, which enables consumers to access their cash at local shops who adopt the service.
Here’s seven things you should know……
1: LINK have an active financial inclusion programme
LINK’s Financial Inclusion Programme focuses on providing free access to cash in 2,805 of the most deprived areas in the UK.
2: There are now over 1,800 “cash at till” locations across the UK
Launched in 2021, cash at the till has gone from strength to strength in 2022. There are now over 1,800 locations offering the service over the LINK network, and in September the Council heard plans from Barclays to roll out even more via its own network.
Over 100,000 people are now using the service every month, withdrawing more than £3 million in this period. The service has also brought free access to cash to some locations that wouldn’t be able to host an ATM, such as Nant-y-Moel in Wales, where LINK had been unable to find a location to fund a new ATM.
3: Cash as a percentage of all payments
In 2021, UK Finance suggested that cash made up just 15% of payments, and forecast it to be just 6% of transactions by 2031. This forecast brings into stark relief the need to protect people who still use cash to budget. LINK and the Consumer Council have done this by lobbying the Government and MPs on access to cash, investigating cash usage in the different nations of the UK, and ensuring the effectiveness of the Financial Inclusion Programme.
4: More than five million people rely on cash
The people who chose new ways to pay during the pandemic have stuck with them, and LINK cash machines remain 40% less busy than before the pandemic.
A major update to the Access to Cash Review was published in April. Based on a detailed survey and stakeholder interviews, the RSA found that over five million people “still rely on cash to budget and for day-today use”.
The research showed remarkable similarities to the 2019 Access to Cash Review, suggesting that even though times have changed, for many people cash is still king.
5: Cash remains key in the most deprived areas
In every corner of the UK, however, it is clear that the biggest indicator of cash reliance remains income.
6: LINK support communities who need better access to cash
LINK listens to communities who need better access to cash, and works to deliver new ATMs and services for them. In 2022, over £80 million was withdrawn from ATMs commissioned by LINK to support communities.
7: LINK serve the most remote and deprived areas
Durness, on the north coast of Scotland, is the UK mainland’s most remote ATM. Over 20 miles from an alternative ATM, it serves a coastal community with many tourists from overseas. Directly commissioned by LINK, it is a demonstration of how far LINK will go to protect cash access.
LINK’s protected and deprived ATM network has continued its work sustaining the geographic spread of ATMs across the country. Serving the most remote parts of the country and the most deprived, these
ATMs remain in place regardless of whether they would be commercially viable on normal terms, because LINK pays up to an extra £2.75 per transaction.
Financial inclusion in numbers
Seven things you should know about LINK
The “seven things you should know about LINK” have all been sourced from the LINK Consumer Council’s Annual Report – available here – the report sets out the work of the Consumer Council in developing LINK’s financial inclusion programme.
Track the UK’s use of cash with Northey Point’s weekly ATM tracker.