ACS has responded to the publication of a recent report from consumer group Which? that warns of 60 bank branches closing every month, highlighting the role of convenience stores in continuing to provide banking services for local customers.

The report found that 2,868 branches will have closed between 2015 and the end of 2018, with Scotland, the South East and the North West seeing the most closures per region.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “For a number of years, convenience stores have been taking on the services that have been left behind by specialist businesses closing on the high street. Access to cash and banking services are essential for local people and businesses, especially in rural and isolated areas, so convenience stores have played an important role in providing ATMs where banks have abandoned local areas.

“It is becoming harder for retailers to offer cash to local people because of reduced payments to ATM operators and increasing business rates bills, so we are concerned about the impact that this will have on communities across the UK.”

At the end of January, LINK confirmed that they would be reducing the interchange fee for card transactions (paid by the banks to the ATM providers) from 25p to 20p over the next four years. The first phase of this reduction will come into force on July 1st this year.

ACS has previously called on the Payment Systems Regulator to ensure that consumer’s access to cash is not harmed by the proposals, especially given the rate at which banks are withdrawing branches from high streets.

The 2017 Local Shop Report shows that 58% of stores in the convenience sector have a cash machine; 45% of stores provide a free-to-use cash machine, while 13% have charged cash machines.

Cash remains an essential method of payment for customers in convenience stores, with HIM research showing that 76% of customers pay in cash.