HSBC has cancelled a plan to raise the minimum cash withdrawal at ATMs from HK$100 to HK$300 after strong criticism. 'We made the decision in response to the public's feedback,' a bank spokeswoman said yesterday. She declined to comment further. The Consumer Council's chief executive, Connie Lau Yin-hing, welcomed the U-turn. 'It is good that the bank can listen to the public's view,' she said. The Society for Community Organisation, a grass-roots concern group, also welcomed the change. 'The bank should shoulder more social responsibilities. It makes so much money every year,' community organiser Sze Lai-shan said. She criticised HSBC for announcing the policy in the first place. 'It did not consider the needs of vulnerable people at all. While the bank has cut the number of branches, forcing people, especially the poor, to use ATMs, how can it raise the minimum withdrawal limit? The bank should increase the number of ATMs instead.' The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said the U-turn was a business decision, adding that banks should consider the needs of the public. HSBC had planned to introduce the higher limit on January 6, saying it would have cut waiting times at bank machines by 10 per cent. But the news caused a public outcry and prompted the Liberal Party to launch a city-wide signature campaign. Critics said the policy would make life more difficult for the underprivileged, particularly the elderly and welfare recipients. A Consumer Council study in March revealed that the number of bank branches in Hong Kong had dropped by 17 per cent in five years, with poor districts hit hardest.