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VICTORIA BISCHOFF: We can't afford to lose cash, as grubby card machines pose a similar risk to coins and notes

13/05/20

By Victoria Bischoff for The Daily MailThere is no doubt that the most hygienic way to pay for something is with a tap of a contactless card.But if you're spending more than the £45 contactless limit, you either have to use a grubby card machine, or hand over cash.Yet despite both options posing a similar health risk for those who do not wash their hands regularly, it is only cash that is being demonised as a possible means of catching coronavirus.As we reveal, this scaremongering is troubling, with more and more shops up and down the country ditching coins and notes altogether.Britain is nowhere near ready to go cashless. We have been told time and again that if we do not act now to protect cash, we will leave millions of elderly, vulnerable people and rural dwellers behind. And while technology can be brilliant, it is also temperamental.When the Visa payment system crashed in June 2018, thousands were left stranded at supermarket checkouts unable to use their cards. That day should have served as a wake-up call for the powers that be over the chaos we'd face if there was a more serious system failure, and we didn't have cash as an alternative payment method.With bank branches closing at a record pace, many small business owners have already had to ditch cash because it is too costly and time-consuming to travel miles each day to deposit takings.If more businesses follow suit due to the pandemic, banks will have yet another excuse to shut even more branches and cash machines — which would be devastating for the many who rely on them for everyday banking. In his March Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to introduce new laws to protect cash, and it is vital he acts on this promise.If he waits until the coronavirus threat has passed, we could find that cash has already been thrown on the scrapheap — hastened to its demise by pressure from firms who stand to benefit financially if we all switch to cards.Ministers have said throughout the current crisis that we should be guided by the science.Well, the experts say that if we all wash our hands regularly, touching cash is no riskier than touching any other hard surface, such as a shopping basket. So let's take heed and refuse to allow corona-phobia to kill off our cash.Flying the flagMoney Mail has repeatedly highlighted how travel firms are refusing to refund holidaymakers for cancelled trips.But one airline and package holiday provider is emerging as something of a hero amid the chaos.One reader, Mike, described Jet2 as 'a beacon of light'. He said that after requesting a refund for a cancelled trip, there was no pressure to take a voucher. The money was back in his bank account within six days — two weeks before his planned departure date.Another reader, Nigel, said he received his money back for a cancelled city break within just 48 hours. And Anne, who also received a swift refund for her cancelled flight to Cyprus, said: 'Jet2 has been brilliant and deserves huge recognition for going above and beyond.' Perhaps other travel firms should take note that all of these readers said the excellent service they had received at such a difficult time meant they would most certainly be using Jet2 for future holidays.Delivery horrorOver the past few weeks we have exposed how vulnerable families are going weeks without vital supplies, with many forced to stay up into the small hours to get a supermarket delivery slot.The response to our investigation was one of the biggest we've seen in recent memory, so thank you.We have now sent a dossier of hundreds of your emails (with personal details removed) to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, to be considered as part of its inquiry into food supply during the pandemic. We will update you as soon as it publishes its findings.In the meantime, good luck with the vital business of getting some food in your fridge.See the original article on VICTORIA BISCHOFF: We can't afford to lose cash, as grubby card machines pose a similar risk to coins and notes

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PRA urges Chancellor to ensure all ATMs are free to use during lockdown

6/05/20

Merril Boulton · 14 April, 2020The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to ensure all ATMs operate as 'free to use' during the COVID-19 lockdown, in a collaborative letter involving the Petrol Retailers' Association.“Never has the widespread availability of cash been so important, particularly that which is free to access,” said Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA which has contributed to and signed a letter to the Chancellor alongside Positive Money, Rural Services Network, Responsible Finance, and Note Machine, in order to encourage the Treasury to put access to cash legislation as an immediate priority."The PRA have previously written to the Chancellor regarding this issue, leading to the announcement during the March Budget of access to cash legislation being brought forward, but the collaborative group have said that there is not the time to wait for this to happen, and the Government must act immediately.They are asking for the Government to reverse the cuts made to the interchange fee paid by banks to ATM providers for cash withdrawals for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, as without this, ATM providers will have to stop their delivery operations, closing a majority of their machines and switching the remaining ones to pay to use. The coronavirus outbreak has further impacted ATM infrastructure, as the providers have seen revenues cut in half over the last two weeks due to the lockdown.Madderson continued: “Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people depend on cash for their daily lives, such as for food that is being delivered for them, so making this service free to access is essential for minimising the impact of COVID-19 on them and their communities.”See the original article on Forecourt Trader

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Will coronavirus be the death of cash?

2/04/20

Kenza Bryan -  The Times The use of cash has halved in the past week, as customers switch to shopping online and abandon coins and notes over hygiene fears.The World Health Organisation has said that handling cash does not pose more of a health risk than touching any other surface, but campaigners believe that the coronavirus crisis will change our habits, leading to a sharp reduction in the use and availability of cash even after the danger of getting ill recedes.Before most businesses shut down, “card only” signs were popping up in pubs and shops all over the UK. Chains including Costa Coffee, which has 2,500 stores, had stopped accepting cash.Many shoppers have also rejected card payments in favour of Google and Apple Pay transactions on mobile phones. The limit on contactless transactions will increase from £30 to £45 next month in recognition of fears about how physical payment methods could increase the rate of viral transmission.Keeping the nation in cash at a time of crisis is a challenge, particularly in smaller, remote communities where cash use is still high.Natalie Ceeney is the head of the Access to Cash campaign, which is pushing for banks to be made legally responsible for ensuring that customers can take cash out even if they live in remote locations. “The people who need and use cash most are generally the most vulnerable: the old, but also the poor,” she says. “I know some shops are nervous about handling notes, but they should be careful about refusing cash because some people will depend on it. The reality is that handling anything is a risk, whether it’s a plastic bag or a piece of paper.”She believes that up to 30 per cent of the UK population could move away from cash payments to card payments because of coronavirus, first temporarily and then as a permanent habit, in a “dramatic shift to digital”.About 1.3 million adults in the UK do not have this option because they have no bank account, according to the Financial Conduct Authority. Others have limited access to the internet, live in areas where few shops are equipped to accept card payments, or have tight budgets, which are easier to manage using cash. These people are likely to struggle if there is a shortage of cash or of businesses who accept it.Sherwood Fired, a pizza van in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, is one of the many businesses that stopped accepting cash in response to the pandemic. In a normal week the owner, David Finn, sells 500 pizzas for £6 to £9 each.Until two weeks ago half of all his sales were in cash. Now, he thinks the vast majority of his customers will continue to pay by card once the coronavirus threat has disappeared.He says: “Once people get the idea that money can be a bit dirty and can be infectious, that idea will stick and they will avoid it.”Finn, 32, shut down his van when the prime minister ordered all restaurants to close, and is now working on setting up a delivery business. He is operating a buy-one-get-one-free deal for NHS staff. Moving to digital payments has had a cost. He pays 1.75 per cent of each transaction to the payment company iZettle, but says that the fee is worth it to avoid losing customers who wish to pay by card.Gareth Shaw, head of money at the consumer group Which?, says: “It’s understandable that some shops may ask customers for card-only payments to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus, but we are concerned that this will leave many vulnerable people unable to pay for the basics they need.“The government and retailers need to find a way to ensure that the millions of people who rely on cash, and may not have a bank card, can still pay for essentials during this difficult time.”Peter McNamara, the founder of the ATM operator Note Machine, says that the number of withdrawals at its cash machines halved last week, but the average value of transactions increased from £62 at the start of the month to £74 last week.Note Machine runs more than 11,000 cash machines and distributes roughly £1 in every £5 in circulation. McNamara says: “The availability of cash is critical if you’re going to keep people able to buy food and groceries.”McNamara says that in the worst-case scenario, if half of his workforce had to go into isolation, Note Machine would only be able to fill half of its cash machines at any one time. Cash handlers are classed as key workers.McNamara estimates that 80 per cent of all withdrawals would still be successful, and last week Note Machine dispensed £310 million across its more than 11,000 cash dispensers.Andy Cox is responsible for the stocking of 2,500 Note Machine ATMs in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle and Carlisle.Cox, 32, has a list of high-priority cash machines that are vulnerable to running out of cash and has reinforced measures to keep his staff healthy and on the road. “You can’t stop the flow of cash,” he says.“Our biggest fear is losing staff to poor hygiene, so gloves have been made mandatory and the lads all have hand sanitiser.”All 66 drivers, security guards and IT staff who work for Cox are defined as key financial service workers whose work is crucial to keeping the economy going during the coronavirus lockdown.Cox’s 11-year-old stepson, Leon, has to continue going to school, alongside the children of doctors, supermarket staff and local government workers. Needless to say, Leon is not thrilled.https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/will-coronavirus-be-the-death-of-cash-l0wgtkhrq

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Businesses urged to keep accepting cash to protect vulnerable

24/03/20

Businesses should keep allowing people to use cash during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure the most vulnerable are able to buy the goods and services they need.Cash is still used as the predominate payment method for many people, especially the elderly and low-income households. Possible moves by businesses to only accept card payments could severely impact those who need assistance the most at this time. Recent studies showed 2.7 million consumers relied almost entirely on cash for their day-to-day expenditure, with cash particularly important to those aged over 54, who Age UK have found struggle more to adapt to new technologies. There are also 1.3 million adults (three per cent of the population) who do not have a bank account, meaning they rely almost entirely on cash as their only payment method.   Peter McNamara, Chief Executive of NoteMachine, whose ATM network provides around 20 per cent of consumer cash in the UK said: “People are shopping for elderly and vulnerable neighbours, friends and families and a lot of these shopping trips will need to be made with cash.    “Even before Covid-19, many of society’s most vulnerable already had a heavy reliance on cash. Removing this payment method at such a critical time would be a devasting blow to many people. They need help to shop, not more blockages, and different forms of payment shouldn’t be discriminated against.  “It is absolutely essential that supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, take-aways and all other businesses continue to accept both cash and card payments, as another vital way we can work together to support the most vulnerable in our communities.”  Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said: “It’s understandable that some shops may ask customers for card only payments to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus, but we are concerned this will leave many vulnerable people unable to pay for the basics they need.“Both the government and retailers need to find a way to ensure that the millions of people who rely on cash, and may not have a bank card, can still pay for essentials during this difficult time.” Media enquiries:  Sarah GulloWA Communications07715 681 85   Note to editors:  The International Currency Association stated earlier this month:  “There is no evidence that banknotes are more strongly contaminated than any other surface and the dominating opinion among medical experts is that the virus is not being transmitted by banknotes.” https://currencyassociation.org/article/who-banknotes-do-not-carry-the-corona-virus/ Which? is a non-profit organisation working to make life simpler, fairer and safer for consumers during the coronavirus crisis. Which? is making a range of news, advice and guides available for free for anyone who needs it at: https://www.which.co.uk/news/coronavirus/

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New £20 note issued today, but will it be the last?

26/02/20

The long-awaited new plastic £20 notes were issued across the UK today amid a cash crisis which is hitting communities across the country. Labour MP for Torfaen, Nick Thomas-Symonds, visited the Cwmbran Centre’s NM Money this morning to withdraw one of the new notes and call on government to do more to protect access to cash on our high streets at the upcoming Budget on 11 March. NM Money in the Cwmbran Centre was one of the few cash machines in the UK chosen to dispense these new notes on issue day. However, accessing your cash for free is becoming increasingly difficult amid the cash crisis in the UK, with a report this week suggesting the UK’s cash infrastructure is in danger of collapsing in less than a decade.  This crisis is driven by large banks cutting the interchange fee – the payment they make to support infrastructure and ensure their customers can access their cash – meaning cash machine operators are being forced to convert machines from free-to-use to pay-to-use. while banks also cut costs elsewhere by closing branches across the UK in pursuit of higher profit margins. Meanwhile, communities cannot access their own cash and some of the UK’s most vulnerable people pay the price. Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour MP for Torfaen, said:  “It’s great that my constituents can be amongst the first to pocket the new £20 notes. However, the government must act now to ensure these notes are not the last. Free access to cash is vital and must be protected by government, putting the interest of consumers first before that of big banks. The Budget on March 11 is the perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to act.” Peter McNamara, Chief Executive of independent cashpoint provider NoteMachine, said: “NoteMachine is excited to be part of the launch of the new £20 note but is concerned that this might be the last new note the UK sees. An increasing amount of consumers are being forced to pay to access their own, to the benefit of banks’ profit margins. This is not right.  We have argued for years that the changes to the way the ATM network is funded would lead to a loss in free access to cash. It is vital that government and the regulator return to the earlier pricing mechanism which enabled providers to offer free to use ATMs, or risk this cash crisis getting even worse.”

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NoteMachine calls on regulatory authorities to reverse link interchange cuts

29/04/19

NOTEMACHINE CALLS ON REGULATORY AUTHORITIES TO REVERSE LINK INTERCHANGE CUTS Which? research shows urgency of action to protect free access to cash. NoteMachine has today welcomed the publication of Which?’s research into the threat posed to the UK’s free access to cash network. The reduction of the LINK interchange fee has put extraordinary pressure on independent ATM operators, making many free-to-use ATMs economically unviable. NoteMachine has fought to operate on a free-to-use basis, even in the face of rising commercial pressure on its network. Unless urgent action is taken to reverse the interchange fee reductions of the last year, NoteMachine will be forced to revaluate the commercial viability of maintaining widespread free-to-use cash machines. A decision will soon need to be made on whether NoteMachine can continue to operate on its free-to-use model, which could mean thousands of ATMs are forced to charge for withdrawals. NoteMachine believes that the regulatory authorities must intervene to avert disaster. Regulators must make LINK address the consequences of its previous actions, cancel the third planned reduction of the interchange fee and reverse the previous reductions. Any further drift along the current slippery slope will ensure the effective ending of free access to cash, which, as this report makes clear, is vital to millions of consumers throughout the UK, and both the most vulnerable and isolated in society and as well as the majority of consumers that need to budget carefully. Peter McNamara, Chief Executive of NoteMachine, said: “The research from Which? very effectively illustrates the grave situation facing the UK’s free access-to-cash network. The reductions in the interchange fee have forced ATM operators to reconsider the economic and commercial sustainability of maintaining a free-to-use network. This is not about marginal shifts in the amount of income derived by ATM operators from each transaction. The whole LINK system is now under severe threat from a toxic combination of wholesale bank branch closures, the unavoidable shift of many free-to-use machines to a charging model, and the mothballing of low volume machines which are no longer economically viable under the charging regime. The impact on consumers is already severe, and demonstrated in a decline of approximately 10% in the number of free ATMs over the period since the interchange cuts were introduced. This in turn has significantly increased the cost to independent operators of fulfilling each individual transaction, creating a vicious circle which is forcing many operators to close machines or move them to a charging model. As yet, we have not done the same – NoteMachine has always operated a free-to-use model wherever possible and we believe very strongly that ATM cash is a public utility which should be preserved as free-to-use for the benefit of the millions of consumers who have to depend on cash, both as a budgeting mechanism and for their day-to-day transactions. All regulators, market participants and financial commentators agree on this basic principle. However, unless urgent action is taken to reduce the pressure on ATM operators by reversing the interchange fee reductions, NoteMachine will be forced to begin converting ATMs to surcharging. This is a dilemma we have been grappling with for some time and are extremely reluctant to make such a decision. But the current situation, which we also argue is the direct result of actions which fundamentally contravene existing competition law, cannot be allowed to continue. If it does, the whole system will collapse. This Which? research highlights the importance placed on free access to cash for all consumers and especially for vulnerable and isolated people, and it is NoteMachine’s hope that the regulatory authorities, who have so far stood by and allowed LINK to create this problem, will now take notice”.

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Customer survey winner January 2019

10/01/19

Congratulations to the winner of our customer survey at Yaawin Global Supermarket in Bournemouth. Our next customer will be in 6 months. Please fill out your next survey for the chance to win £100 M&S vouchers! Thank you to all of our customers for participating! If you have any queries please call us on: 0800 068 9368

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eurochange top of the league table

25/05/18

Visit the BBC website to check out the difference in currency fees. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44215758

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NM Money branch opened in Brent Cross

27/04/18

NM Money, the newest member of the NoteMachine Group, has declared the doors to their first branch officially open. Located in the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, NM Money’s inaugural branch offers customers a wide variety of mortgage, insurance, and travel money services. Peter McNamara, NoteMachine Group CEO and founder, commented “We had one clear aim for NM Money: to provide a better value, more transparent, financial service to all customers with great advice from a highly skilled team. We’re pleased to say we’re on the way!” As well as fee-free mortgage advice for first-time buyers, remortgagers and the buy-to-let market, NM Money offers Home and Life Insurance advice, plus an expert foreign exchange service with over 50 currencies available in-store.

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