Nine UK Banks Unite To Launch New Non-Profit Access To Cash Company

December 21, 2022
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Led by UK Finance, a financial services trade association, nine banks have come together to launch Cash Access UK, a new non-profit company focused on high-street access to cash.

Led by UK Finance, a financial services trade association, nine banks have come together to launch Cash Access UK, a new non-profit company focused on high-street access to cash.

Incorporated on December 16, Cash Access UK is an independent company that is fully funded by nine high-street banks and building societies: Barclays; HSBC; Lloyds Banking Group; Nationwide Building Society; NatWest Group; Santander; Virgin Money; Danske Bank; and TSB.

Cash Access UK will provide cash deposit, withdrawal and basic banking services in areas where these are needed throughout the UK, starting with a network of 29 “hubs”.

Speaking to VIXIO, a spokesperson for UK Finance said four of the hubs are already open, with 25 on the way. Additional hubs will be added based on demand following bank branch closures.

The task of monitoring demand for cash facilities in local areas will be outsourced to LINK, the UK ATM network, although residents can also request directly that their needs be assessed.

David Postings, chief executive of UK Finance, could not confirm when the rest of the hubs will open, but he said the nine banks aim to have them up and running as quickly as possible.

“The creation of Cash Access UK Ltd is an important step towards a network of banking hubs across the country,” he said.

“While many people are now opting to manage their money digitally, we want to ensure that people can continue to access cash and do their banking face to face too.”

The hubs are shared banking spaces located on the high street, open Monday to Friday, with counter services operated by the Post Office.

Customers of all major banks and building societies can carry out cash transactions at the hubs, and the hubs offer a “community banker” service where customers can talk to their own banking provider in private about more complicated banking issues.

The community bankers work on rotation, with a different banking provider available on each day of the week. Community bankers are usually provided by the banks or building society with the largest number of customers in the local area.

In a statement, UK Finance said that Cash Access UK is the product of an “extensive industry collaboration” over 18 months.

The decision to launch Cash Access UK was made based on the findings of the Community Access to Cash Pilots, which published its final report in December 2021.

The Community Access to Cash Pilots has trialled the hub concept in eight locations. The project was chaired by Natalie Ceeney CBE, who will also serve as chair of Cash Access UK.

UK Finance said that Cash Access UK is a “major milestone” in the financial industry’s commitment to high-street cash facilities and that the company’s activities will complement future regulations by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Regulatory backdrop

In May, HM Treasury announced that it is seeking to introduce new protections for access to cash into legislation.

For the first time, if the legislation passes, the UK’s largest banks and building societies would be subject to new rules that ensure the continued availability of withdrawal and deposit facilities in local communities.

The measures, which would be enforced by the FCA, are legislated for in the Financial Services and Markets Bill, whose third reading took place this month, as reported by VIXIO.

To support the FCA, the government has said it will set out its expectations for a “reasonable distance” for people to travel when depositing and withdrawing cash.

The government added that this will reflect the existing supply and demand of cash withdrawal and deposit facilities.

Merchants go cold on cash

On the same day that Cash Access UK was incorporated, LINK published new research showing that there is “growing concern” among consumers around cash acceptance.

According to a LINK survey conducted by YouGov, nearly half (45 percent) of respondents have been somewhere where cash is either not accepted or discouraged.

In the past eight weeks, LINK said the locations where cash acceptance has been the most limited have been car parks, cafes, restaurants and public transport.

Of those affected, 49 percent said they were inconvenienced by having their cash shunned or discouraged.

Graham Mott, director of strategy at LINK, said that despite the increasing popularity of digital payments, merchants should remember that cash is still an important payment method for many consumers.

“We know some people simply prefer using cash, but there are millions who can’t do digital payments, so being unable to pay in notes and coins is still frustrating for some,” he said.

According to LINK, 73 percent of respondents had used cash within the last two weeks, which suggests around a quarter of the population is virtually cashless in the UK.

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