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'Cashback at till' to be rolled out to more than 2,000 shops

Cashback at till
Pound notes and change inside a cash resgister in a coffee shop in Manchester, UK. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

A scheme that lets Brits withdraw cash or check their bank account balances at the till in small shops without the need to buy anything or pay a fee is set to be rolled out to 2,000 shops by the end of the year.

Link, the UK’s largest cash machine network, trialled a scheme called ‘Cashback Without Purchase’ for a year and now wants to roll it out across the country.

Cashback trial is currently ongoing in over 1,000 locations and should be at another 1,000 sites by the end of the year. Consumers will be able to find their nearest location online or via an app.

“Protecting access to cash is absolutely vital for millions of people who depend on it,” said Tracey Graham, chair, Link Consumer Council.

“The Consumer Council is delighted to see this important service rolled out across the country and will continue to seek innovative ways to support people who rely on cash for as long as it is needed."

PayPoint is the first and only Link member so far to provide the service. The ability to offer the service is open to all members and Link hopes more will come on board. It believes the scheme provides “a valuable new way to access cash on the high street.”

Consumers using the service can withdraw any amount between 1p and £50 rather than being restricted to notes dispensed by ATMs.

During PayPoint's year-long trial, more than 24,800 transactions were made, with an average withdrawal size of £27.81. Over £680,000 has been taken out using the service so far.

Retailers are remunerated for providing this service by the cardholder’s bank via the LINK member offering the service.

Read more: Price rises hit Christmas shopping in cost of living squeeze

It became possible to roll out the scheme after the government made an amendment to the Financial Services Bill 2021, which became law earlier this year

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “It is great to see Link and Paypoint taking advantage of the legislative changes we made earlier this year to facilitate cashback without a purchase across the UK.

“The cashback at the till service stands to make a real difference to local communities by providing access to cash for people that need it, and supporting cash acceptance by local businesses.”

This comes amid a decline in the number of ATMs in the country. In August, consumer group Which? said 8,000 ATMs had disappeared in the 18 months prior – a fall of around 13% – with the vast majority going during the first lockdown.

The report also said that in the last 12 months, one in four experienced at least one cashpoint issue, including 17% who said the ATM they used had run out of cash or not been working when needed.

At the time Which? had said the government must do more to protect consumers who are reliant on cash.

In March, UK merchant payment provider Dojo found that between January 2019 and September 2020 the number of cash machines in Britain fell from 62,967 to 55,674 — a decrease of 7,293.

Another report published at that time by Merchant Machine said coins and banknotes could disappear from the UK by 2026 as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated "the journey to a cashless society" – with people avoiding touching cash for fear it could promote spread of the virus.

But the trend towards a cashless society is not desired by all Britons.

The same report found that 47% of the UK said that they would find it problematic if there was no cash. A further 17% stated that they were unsure of how they cope or if they would be able to cope at all.

Watch: How to prevent getting into debt