The UK’s largest banks on Wednesday (15) entered into an agreement to share their services to ensure that smaller communities can maintain their access to cash.
The collaboration was achieved through the Access to Cash Action Group which has signed up all the major retail banks alongside Age UK, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and others.
Under the new model, any community that faces the closure of a core cash service, such as a bank branch or ATM, will have its needs independently assessed by LINK, the largest interbank network which operates cash machines.
The new shared services will run alongside other industry initiatives to support cash, such as “cash back without purchase”, which is being rolled out to 2,000 retailers by the end of 2021, mobile branches and pop-up services.
Responding to the launch of fresh measures from the Cash Action Group, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Vice Chair Martin McTague, said, “As the pandemic accelerates the shift to cashless, this new strategy will bring hope to communities which are losing bank branches and ATMs.
“It’s important that the new assessments of need outlined today are independent and fair – we’ll be watching their progress closely.
“Through the access to cash pilots, we’ve discovered new deposit and withdrawal options for those who still rely on notes and coins – consumers who are often among society’s most vulnerable.
“Cashback without purchase will no doubt have an important part to play too. It’s vital that the incentives to offer this service fully take account of the demands placed on businesses which provide it.
Findings from ACS’ 2021 Local Shop Report show that consumers think that two of the most valuable services offered in convenience stores are cash machines and the Post Office.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said, “Convenience stores trade across the heart of communities across the UK and we know that cash is still very important for a large proportion of our customers.
“We are pleased that LINK has outlined plans to review cash provisions when a bank branch closes but it is vital to also ensure areas which already do not have trading bank branches are not forgotten or left behind. The Government needs to act urgently and decisively on its earlier commitment to legislate to promote access to cash.”