The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HBOS are to install 400 free to use cash machines in the poorest communities in the UK.
Cash machines – or automated teller machines (ATMs) – are increasingly popular, with a 28% increase in cash machine withdrawals and a 37% rise in balance enquiries over the past three years.
But some banks have been criticised for imposing charges on users, a move that hits poorer people who rely on the machines for access to cash hardest. HBOS estimated that there were 400 deprived areas in Scotland and the North of England serviced solely by surcharging ATMs.
RBS will install 300 new machines and HBOS another 100, with the two banks coordinating the distribution of the free to use ATMs between them.
Gordon Pell, RBS chief executive of retail markets, said: “By working in conjunction with local MPs, local authorities, credit unions and the communities they represent, to identify potential sites, the poorest areas in the UK will soon have free access to their cash, via machines located in their local area.”
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