UK consumers have been long enjoying free access to cash from not just their own bank’s ATMs but also ATMs at other banks. Things might now be changing as some banks are starting to limit this service to their own ATMs only. For now the changes only affect basic bank account holders, but that might be the direction that the market is heading.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), the U.K.’s biggest government-controlled bank, is restricting holders of 1 million basic accounts to its own automatic teller machines, a step that lawmakers and consumer groups say may lead to the end of free ATM use.
“If the first step is to restrict ATM access, what you’re seeing is a slow squeeze on those elements of banking that aren’t as profitable as others,” said Chris Leslie, a Labour member of Parliament who speaks for the party on financial affairs. “It chips away at the concept of free banking that people have grown used to.”
“Using other-bank ATMs incurs a charge to banks,” Edinburgh-based RBS said in an e-mailed statement. “As we already offer basic accounts at a cost to us, it is not sustainable to offer this feature long-term.”
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