Banks Commit To Cash Access

New venture will ensure communities don't miss out.

December 13, 2021
Banks Commit To Cash Access
Ian Lewis

Written By

Ian Lewis

 
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A new venture is set to be unveiled next week which will see Britain’s largest banks coming together to guarantee access to cash for customers in locations where branches are closing.

The new project will be released at the same time as a report that was commissioned on the Community Access to Cash Pilot programme, which was a scheme set up to test a variety of different services to provide cash to customers in eight locations around the UK.

Preserving Cash Machines For Communities

The new plans involve many of the biggest high street banks in the UK, including Barclays, the Lloyds Banking Group, the NatWest group, HSBC and Santander UK. The group will initially provide £4 million of funding although it is expected that the ongoing cost of the project will be in the millions every year.

Key to the project is LINK, the largest cash machine network in the UK. The banks will give the £4 million to LINK so that it can carry out an independent assessment whenever banks are looking to close any branches or ATMs.

LINK will look at the proposed closures, and evaluate the location’s population density, level of economic activity and general requirements for cash. When the provider determines that the closure of branches or ATMs would cause problems to the community for accessing cash easily, it will commission new services as replacements, which could take the form of shared face-to-face outlets.

The project is a voluntary one from the banks, although it had been expected that the Financial Conduct Authority would soon step in and make such a move mandatory anyway, following the high number of closures and concerns amongst the wider market for elderly and vulnerable customers who often rely on cash.

It is expected that, as soon as the move is announced, the new measures will be put into place immediately, and any future announced branch closures would be subject to the new scrutiny.

Branch Closure Announcements Continue

The project couldn’t be any more timely, considering branch closures are continuing. The latest announcement came from TSB last month when it said that it would be closing a further 70 of its branches, leaving only 220 remaining.

Banks have claimed that reduced footfall and usage of branches has made the changes necessary, although few have released concrete evidence to show that this is not just a symptom of lockdowns.

While banks are correctly arguing that cash use is down and more people are transitioning to online banking, there is a large portion of the population who are committed to using cash or who need cash access for specific reasons, and consumer groups are concerned that they are being left behind.

During the branch closures, some commercial ventures such as the OneBanks group have started exploring the option of shared branches in locations where individual branches are being closed, which would give customers access to their banks at least one day a week.

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Mentioned Banks

About Barclays Bank Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company. It was founded in 1690 and is headquartered in London. Barclays originated...
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About HSBC Bank HSBC is a British banking and financial services company. It is the largest bank in Europe and the seventh largest bank in the world. The bank originated in Hong Kong...
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About Lloyds Bank Lloyds Bank is a British retail and commercial bank. One of the ‘Big Four’ clearing banks, it was founded in Birmingham in 1765. It is the largest retail bank...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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About Santander Santander UK is a British bank. Though it is a British company and autonomously managed, it is entirely owned by the Spanish Santander Group. Santander is one...
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About TSB TSB is a UK-based retail and commercial bank. It is a subsidiary of the Sabadell Group. The TSB we know today came to be in 2013, formed from Lloyds TSB Scotland PLC...
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