Supporting the Bank of England.....

Posted on: 06/05/2019

People may think I am joking when I say I have written to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, offering my services (free-to-use, obviously).

I am not.

Actually, I am a great letter writer. Years ago, when a misguided UK politician tried to destroy Independent ATM Deployers, I wrote to the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the General Secretary of his Party. He knew then he was in a fight - and, thankfully for the British public, he didn’t win it.

Anyway, back to my relationship with the Bank of England.

Here’s just a flavour of the interactions I have had with the Mother of all Central Banks.

Back in 2008, when I was a Director of the UK Payments Council,  I met Andrew Bailey, then Chief Cashier of the Bank of England ( and now CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority) at a board meeting.

Andrew confided in me that the Bank was struggling to get £5 notes into circulation. He asked me if the wonderful ATM operator I ran at the time - Bank Machine - could help.

Who wouldn’t help the Bank of England - and the British public - in a time of need?

I told Andrew that Bank Machine would install £5 Only ATMs around the country, to ensure the public again had access to convenient-to-use fivers, rather than having pockets jammed with £1 coins.

So we did indeed install hundreds of ATMs offering £5 Notes only - and they were a brilliant success.

Not only that, but the Bank of England was then able to tell the High Street Banks to get their act together and put £5 Notes in THEIR ATMs. After all, if little Bank Machine could do it, why couldn’t they?

Within two years, the value of £5 Notes in circulation went up from 0.1% to 1.1% of the total value of UK banknotes. In real money, that’s an increase from around £50 million to £550 million - so 100 million extra fivers in the public’s purses and wallets.

£5 Note Only ATMs were a brilliant innovation for the British public - and cash.

Unsurprisingly, I became a “hero”, a “champion”, at the Bank of England. My photograph was actually put up with those kind of captions in the Old Lady’s marble corridors.

A couple of years later, the Bank of England approached me to install an ATM in Threadneedle Street for their staff to use.I was very happy to do so. 

That first  ATM for the Bank of England went so well that they then asked me to install an ATM for the public to use in the reception of the Bank. A contract was signed and plans agreed, but the week before we were due to install I had a call from the then Chief Cashier asking me to allow the Bank to pull out of the contract, because it would have embarrassed the big UK High Street Banks that only Bank Machine had been given this honour.

Not wishing to in any way embarrass the Bank of England, I of course agreed not to install the ATM....

In 2012, I suggested to Chris Salmon, at that time Chief Cashier of the Bank of England, that the Bank and Bank Machine should together promote cash by giving everyone attending the opening ceremony of the London Olympics a lovely £5 Note. What better gift from the UK? Sterling, carrying our Monarchs image.

Sadly, Chris responded that the Bank of England couldn’t promote cash in this way.

Sad, because cash is the only Payment Method actually owned by the United Kingdom.

Not all my dealings with the Bank of England have gone smoothly.

In late 2017, I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Moneybox programme with Victoria Cleland, yet another Chief Cashier at the Bank. I warned on the programme that LINKs proposed cut in ATM interchange could lead to the decimation of the UK ATM estate.

Victoria accused me of scaremongering.

Since then, we have lost 10% of our UK ATMs, with 10,000 more free-to-use ATMs likely to switch to pay-to-use during 2019.

Even Chief Cashiers cannot be right all the time, it seems.

You will notice, by the way, that I don’t mind mentioning names. That’s something you can safely do only when you are serving up 100% unvarnished truth. As I am doing.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to tell about my relationship with the Bank of England - but I will leave that for my memoirs!

In the meantime, I remain available to assist the Bank in their quest to ensure cash remains a Payment Choice for everyone who wants to use it in the UK.

Naturally, I am aware that making yourself available publicly doesn’t always get you the job.

Does anyone remember Brian Clough, a football manager of European Champions - yet never given the job of England Manager?

Nevertheless, I repeat; having helped the Bank of England on several previous occasions, naturally I am happy to do so again.

The current Chief Cashier, Sarah John, has my personal mobile phone number. I await her - or Marks - call.......

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