Cashpoint revolution

Cash machines are about to undergo a major expansion and become a universal feature of the high street, thanks to a breakthrough method of funding them.

Spar is already poised to install the first cashpoint machines in its stores using the new low-cost funding formula, anticipating an expected influx of thousands more cash machines inside shops, cinemas and fast-food restaurants.

Up to now only the largest multiple retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer could guarantee the 3,000 transactions a month needed to justify the installation of cashpoints. But they will now be funded by a 1 fee paid by customers.

Spar plans to introduce automatic teller machines (ATMs) in up to 200 of its stores in an attempt to attract more customers.

Spar has signed an initial agreement with ATM network operator Euronet, ATM manufacturer NCR, and network provider ATMOS to install the machines. Four are already working in shops in West Bromwich, Birmingham, Rhondda and Baglan, South Wales. The Woolwich bank will sponsor the Spar initiative.

The machines will be connected to all UK banks through ATMOS’s parent company Link and are the first to be located in convenience stores. This contrasts with the US, where thousands of cashpoint machines are already installed away from bank branches.

Consumers in the US pay an average flat fee of $1.14 per transaction to use any of 73,000 off-premise ATMs, 40,000 of which are located at convenience stores. In the UK, there are already 23,000 cash machines. Eventually, says Euronet, consumers will be able to withdraw cash at fast-food outlets and cinemas.

Euronet director Harry Smart says: “We will be driven by demand, but there is scope for at least 3,000 more ATMs in the UK.” But this is a conservative estimate. NCR director of self-service banking Simon Rubin says the total figure could rise by 10,000 to 33,000.

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