The current arguments threatening to undermine the Link free-to-use ATM Network are bringing to a head issues that have not been properly exposed to scrutiny for 20 years. It's time they were. Until 1998, ATMs in the U.K. were solely run by banks and building societies. Of the 25,000 ATMs in the U.K. at that time, approximately 19,000 were located at bank branches. In essence, banks were telling their customers, "We are the bosses here. If you want cash, come to us.