Friday, September 25, 2020
Finance

Banking and finance industry announce work to support people’s free cash access

Work to support people’s free access to cash will take place over the summer, the banking and financial services industry has announced

Work to support people’s free cash access will take place over the summer, the banking and financial services industry has announced.

Trade association UK Finance said the action will build on the Access to Cash Review. The review recently described the cash system as “on the verge of collapse”.

The work will build up a picture of the range of options customers currently have for accessing cash and develop an approach for how the industry could work with local authorities to identify and report gaps in cash provision.

Over the summer, UK Finance will work to develop a definition of the industry’s commitment to customers and communities in terms of what is considered the “appropriate provision for free access to cash”.

It will consider how this new approach could involve the creation of an independent body with responsibility for responding to access to cash representations, and co-ordinating and facilitating appropriate industry action.

It will work with ATM network Link, the Post Office and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to make improvements.

Chairman of the Access to Cash Review, Natalie Ceeney said the acknowledgement from the UK’s major banks that the UK public will continue to need free access to cash is, in itself, hugely welcome.

Ceeney said urgent action should be taken, and the commitment to reaching conclusions quickly is welcome.

Digital payments don’t yet work for everyone, and millions will be left behind if there is no free access to cash, and support businesses to keep accepting cash, she said.

City Minister John Glen said UK Finance’s work will help “support communities up and down the country and provide choice over how they spend their money”.

Gareth Shaw, head of money, Which?, said the industry’s commitment to protecting people’s ability to access cash for free is welcome and must be followed up with urgent action, as consumers across the country are struggling with the double blow of bank branch and cashpoint closures.

Shaw said banks and payment providers must now engage with local communities, businesses and consumer groups, and the Government’s new strategy group must quickly explore all options, including legislation, to ensure free access to cash is preserved for as long as people need to use it.

As digital payments continue to rise, the industry must also do more to ensure these services work for everyone and don’t result in some people being shut out of paying for goods and services.

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