People can soon withdraw up to £50 in notes and coins in smaller shops without having to buy anything.
A scheme enabling people to get cash from retailers’ tills without needing to make a purchase is to be rolled out to more than 2,000 shops before the end of the year.
Cash machine network Link said that, following a successful 12-month pilot, the scheme is already live in around 1,000 locations.
Withdrawals of any amount between 1p and £50 can be made, rather than being restricted to the notes dispensed by ATMs. During the year-long trial, more than 24,800 transactions were made, with an average withdrawal amount of £27.81.
Payment services provider PayPoint is the first of Link’s members to provide the facility and will be offering it at more than 2,000 shops before the end of the year.
The ability to offer the service is open to all Link members, and Link said it hopes that others will also take up the opportunity as the market develops.
The initiative originally formed part of the Community Access to Cash Pilots, led by Natalie Ceeney, and was piloted in shops across Burslem in Staffordshire (England), Hay-on-Wye in Powys (Wales), Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire (Scotland) and Denny in Stirlingshire (Scotland).
Its future was secured beyond the pilots following an amendment to financial services legislation.
People will be able to find their nearest cashback without purchase location using Link’s cash locator and cash locator app.
Tracey Graham, chair, Link Consumer Council, said: “Protecting access to cash is absolutely vital for millions of people who depend on it.”
Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen 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.”
Lord Holmes of Richmond, who was behind legislative changes to allow cashback without purchase, said: “I’m delighted to see so many shops are beginning to offer this service. It will help many people who are reliant on cash, who are often at the sharp end of bank branch and ATM closures.
“It will be especially beneficial to high streets or villages that may not be busy enough to have an ATM, but where cash is still important.Lord Holmes
“Overall this is good news and inclusive, but we should go further. As more services inevitably go digital, we need to bring people with us. That’s why I think next year we should look at an access to digital review, so everyone can be part of the digital economy.”
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national vice chairman Martin McTague, who sits on the Access to Cash Pilots board, said: “There’s been good anecdotal evidence from this cashback without purchase trial, especially with regards to footfall – shoppers come in to take out cash, and then make unplanned purchases when on site, leading them to build a new relationship with a small business.
“Making the wider rollout a success depends on getting incentives right. The sums paid to small business owners for facilitating cashback without purchase need to cover deposit and withdrawal fees, which have been ramped up as bank branches have closed, the higher insurance premiums that often come with having cash on site, and the time lost to ferrying notes and coins to and from access points.
“If the price for making cash access possible is fair, this could prove an important contributor to efforts to secure free access to cash in communities which depend on it most, especially those in remote settings where digital connectivity is lacking.
“That said, cashback without purchase must remain optional for small firms – it’s not a service that all will be comfortable offering: doing so should be a choice.”
The UK Government has said it will legislate to protect the future of cash.
Gareth Shaw, Which? head of money, said: “Everyone should have reasonable access to their own money without having to pay, so it’s good to see a cashback scheme rolled out to communities who rely on cash the most.
“Schemes like cashback without purchase have a role to play, but they won’t be enough on their own to plug the gaps in the UK’s fragile cash system. That is why the Government must urgently press ahead with legislation that guarantees consumers can continue to access cash for as long as it is needed.”