UK banks and building societies are in advanced discussions to set up a single national network of cash machines, spurred on by the millennium project.
Barclays, Lloyds and Midland Bank are in talks to join Link, the largest existing cash machine network, which already includes most building societies and smaller banks.
If the partnership comes to fruition customers of virtually all the banks in the UK will have access to 25,000 cash machines. The majority of banks are not expected to charge customers for using their rivals' cash machines.
Barclays could connect to the Link network as early as December, a spokeswoman for the bank told 'Newswire'. The others are likely to join early next year. National Westminster Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which already have reciprocal arrangements with Link, will become full members next year.
The talks have been pushed ahead thanks to changes required for the Year 2000 computer upgrades, confirmed a Barclays spokeswoman. She declined, however, to comment on costs or schedules.
Other European countries, such as France, have had nationwide bank access to cash machines for several years. Their next step is introducing smartcards, allowing customers' spending power to be carried on a chip on a card rather than in a wallet.
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