Mastercard is rolling out a new cashback service in the UK amid concern about ATMs and bank branches disappearing from the high street.
Under the initiative, local shops and businesses will earn 12p from April 2020 every time they dispense cash to a shopper paying with a Mastercard debit card.
Cashback in shops has been an option for bank account holders for some time, but Mastercard said it hoped the new fee would encourage local retailers to offer the service.
Mastercard said all of its debit card-issuing partners would take part in the scheme, including Clydesdale Bank, Metro Bank, Monzo, N26, Starling Bank, Virgin Money, Yorkshire Bank and Santander.
The ongoing removal of bank branches and ATMs has led to widespread concern about the consequences for the millions of consumers, particularly the elderly and those in rural communities, who would struggle to cope in a cashless society.
Which? figures earlier this year suggested that cash dispensers disappeared at a rate of 488 per month between June and December last year – with more than 250 free-to-use machines also closing monthly.
Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard in the UK, Ireland, Nordics and Baltics, said: “By leading this new cashback initiative, we aim to encourage more shops to offer their customers the option of cash back at the point of sale.
“This isn’t a replacement for ATMs, but if we can add to the number of outlets where people can access cash, especially in areas without an ATM, it will be a valuable addition to the community for both consumers and local businesses.”
Gareth Shaw, from Which? Money, said: “Action to help the many consumers who have been stripped of access to cash is long overdue, but we need to see much more detail about how schemes like this will work in practice.
“While a step in the right direction, cashback can only plug some of the gaps in Britain’s broken cash infrastructure, which is why the Government must introduce legislation that guarantees consumers can continue to access cash for as long as it is needed.”
Natalie Ceeney, chairwoman of the Access to Cash review, said: “This is a very positive and welcome initiative from Mastercard.
“Supporting local shops to offer cashback will help maintain access to cash, and benefit retailers and consumers alike. I’m delighted that Mastercard have taken this step.”