14th May 2021

UK banking industry commits to supporting customers who depend on cash

UK Finance and the largest retail banks and building societies have made five commitments to continue to preserve access to cash for consumers and businesses over the long term. The financial institutions which have signed up to these commitments are Barclays Bank UK plc, Coventry Building Society, HSBC UK Bank plc, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, NatWest Group plc, Santander UK plc, and TSB Bank plc1.

This move provides certainty that cash access will be available for individuals and businesses to both withdraw and deposit cash, now and in the future.

They commit to:

-ensuring that cash will be available for those who need it, particularly small businesses, the elderly and vulnerable, when they need it
-supporting the Community Access to Cash Pilots
working together to consider possible models for future access to cash which address changing access requirements and meet the needs of customers and communities
protecting current critical infrastructure until a viable alternative is available
-establishing and maintaining a framework to enable early identification of potential cash ‘cold spots’.
The group recognise that cash is important. According to UK Finance’s Payments Market report, an estimated 9.3 billion cash payments were made in 2019. Research from the University of Bristol shows that people currently find it easy to access cash near the places where they use it, like retail hubs. The research shows that consumers currently already use a variety of different ways to access cash, including ATMs, cashback and the Post Office, with 95% of the UK’s high streets having free access to cash within 250 metres and all having free cash access within one kilometre.

Last month saw the launch of the independent Community Access to Cash Pilots3, first established by the industry, which are supported by the major banks, consumer and SME groups, the Post Office, and LINK. The Pilots are supporting eight communities across the UK to trial and test different ways to allow people access to cash.

The pilots will run for the next six months, during which time we will establish an Access to Cash Action Group which will develop industry proposals for how access to cash could be protected in the long term. This group will be chaired by Natalie Ceeney, Chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots Board, supported by David Postings, CEO of UK Finance, as Deputy Chair and will include senior members from each financial institution named above, Age UK, Toynbee Hall and others including the Post Office and LINK. The Group will contribute to ensuring that access to cash needs are addressed both now and in the future. Economic insights from the pilot solutions will feed into the design of possible models for future access to cash.

Any future solution will be led by what customers want and informed by the findings of the pilots.

The banking and finance industry is already taking action to ensure customers can access cash through:

-supporting the current LINK financial inclusion programmes for ATMs
-addressing cash cold spots by supporting cash mapping
enabling access to Post Office counters for withdrawals and deposits
-working with retailers ahead of the new cashback without purchase powers coming in.

Where regulatory and legislative action is required, the industry will continue to work closely with regulators, government, and stakeholders including consumer groups, ATM operators and the Post Office, who all play a role in the cash ecosystem, to ensure that solutions work for consumers and industry alike.

Postings comments “The banking and finance industry is committed to making sure there is access to cash for those who need it as we recognise that cash is still an important way to pay for many. It is fantastic news that the government has moved swiftly to allow cashback without purchase which, alongside other initiatives, will help customers who might be less confident using other types of payments.”

Ceeney added “Over 5 million people across the UK are dependent on cash, as are many small businesses and communities. However, as cash use declines, the banking infrastructure is becoming unsustainable, risking individuals and communities being left adrift. I welcome the commitment from the banking and finance industry to sustaining cash, and look forward to working with them, with regulators and government to finding a sustainable model for cash.”

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