UK cash machine operator Link has announced the rollout of its Cashback Without Purchase programme across the UK after an initial 12-month pilot period.

The new scheme has already gone live at 1,000 locations across the country and enables consumers to withdraw any value of notes and coins up to £50 or check balances for free.

This will enable customers of Link member retailers to withdraw cash or check their balances in smaller shops without the requirement of making an in-store purchase or paying a withdrawal fee.

All Link members will be offered the service, and the company has detailed an ambition to expand the initiative to a total of 2,000 shops by the end of the year, detailing that it is hopeful that ‘others will also take up the opportunity as the market develops’.

“Protecting access to cash is absolutely vital for millions of people who depend on it,” said Tracey Graham, Chair of the Link Consumer Council. “Cashback Without Purchase is a convenient new way for people to withdraw notes and coins at their local retailer. 

“The Consumer Council is delighted to see this important service rolled out across the country and will continue to seek innovative ways to support people who rely on cash for as long as it is needed.”

Any amount between 1p and £50 can be withdrawn using the service, allowing customers to withdraw smaller amounts currency without being restricted to notes, and in order to assist customers in locating retailers offering the service Link has made its Cash Locator and Cash Locator App available.

Link first launched the 12-month pilot initiative as part of the Community Access to Cash Pilots, led by Natalie Ceeney CBE, with testing locations in Burslem, Staffordshire; Hay-on-Wye, Powys; Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire; and Denny, Stirlingshire.

After cashback without a purchase services were permitted under law following amendments to the Financial Services Bill 2021 earlier this year, Link made the decision to implement the scheme as a permanent measure.

A need to maintain consumer access to cash was highlighted by several prominent UK banks earlier this year – including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, Natwest and Santander – which jointly pledged to support UK Finance’s cash access commitments.

These pledges included backing of the aforementioned Community Access to Cash Pilots, and making a combined commitment to ensuring small businesses, the eldelry and vulnerable are still able to access cash when needed.

Commenting on the development, John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, remarked: “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.”

However, despite the development, the UK has been cited as the fourth-most cashless society in Europe – after Norway, Sweden and Finland – with 91% and 65% of over-15s owning a debit card or credit card respectively. On the other hand, the study which identified this trend also revealed that the country was not in the top ten globally.