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    FCA proposes new rules to protect access to cash

    (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has proposed new rules to protect access to cash for businesses and consumers across the UK.

    The FCA has launched a consultation on a new regulatory regime, which would require banks and building societies, designated by the government, to assess and address gaps, or potential gaps, in cash access provision in our local communities.

    Under the proposals, designated firms will be required to:

    1. Undertake cash access assessments when changes are being made to cash access services – to understand whether additional services are required to meet local gaps
    2. Respond to requests from local residents, community organisations and representatives to consider, assess and plug gaps
    3. Deliver reasonable additional cash services to fill gaps in provision where assessments show that there is or will be a significant local gap
    4. Ensure they do not close cash facilities, including bank branches, until any additional cash services identified are available

    Findings from the 2023 Local Shop Report show convenience stores play a vital role in ensuring financial inclusion in their communities, offering a range of cash and banking services, including free- to-use ATMs (40 per cent of stores), charged ATMs (12 per cent), cashback (70 per cent), bill payment services (76 per cent) and Post Office services (22 per cent). 

    ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “Cash is a valued payment method for both business and consumers across the UK and is used by millions of customers as a way of managing their money.

    “We welcome the FCA’s proposals to ensure that banks and building societies have regard for reasonable access to cash services, but it is important to note that further measures will be needed to protect this vital payment method. The Government needs to review ATM interchange fees to ensure that they rise to a level which properly covers the cost of providing and managing the long-term future of UK’s free-to-use ATM network.”

    ACS’ Access to Cash Tracker reveals the change in ATM provision in every constituency across the UK. ACS will be responding to the FCA consultation in due course.

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