Payment provider Mastercard is launching a new initiative to broaden cash access in the U.K., according to a company press release.
In an effort to protect access to cash on the high street, Mastercard will pay merchants to issue cash to customers. Starting April 2020, local shops and businesses will earn a small fee every time a customer requests cashback along with a purchase on a Mastercard debit card.
"By leading this new cash back initiative we aim to encourage more shops to offer their customers the option of cash back at the point of sale," Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard in the U.K., Ireland, Nordics and Baltics, said in the release.
All of Mastercard's issuing partners, including Clydesdale Bank, Metro Bank, Monzo, N26, Starling Bank, Virgin Money and Yorkshire Bank — and starting later this year Santander — will take part in the program.
Mastercard hopes the effort will help compensate for the country's shrinking pool of ATMs. "This enhancement to retailer cash back isn't a replacement for ATMs, but if we can add to the number of outlets where people can access cash, especially in areas without an ATM, it will be a valuable addition to the community for both consumers and local businesses," Barnett added.
A recent report by ATM network LINK indicated that a shift to contactless cards was making it more difficult for those who need cash the most to gain access to it.
Further, a report from consumer Group Which earlier this year said that 1,700 of the U.K.'s approximately 52,000 free-to-use ATMs have switched to fee-charging in just the first three months of this year.
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