UK banking and finance industry update on local access to cash

  • In June 2019, the UK banking and finance industry committed to help local communities to identify and secure appropriate free access to cash.
  • In support of the Access to Cash Review, led by Natalie Ceeney CBE, the banking and finance industry is (1) assessing the range of channels currently available to residents; and (2) developing a cross-industries approach to work with local communities to identify, report and address significant gaps in cash provision.
  • UK Finance is today launching the Community Access to Cash Initiative to help local communities to identify and secure appropriate access to cash and payment services. Supporting this initiative, UK Finance is progressing work on digital payment alternatives and education, driving improved local cash recycling and improving awareness of (and access to) existing cash channels.
  • Solutions to ensure local access to cash must be found through collaboration beyond the banking and finance industry. UK Finance welcomes engagement with partners from other industries to build a resilient and sustainable cash landscape, e.g. telecommunications and ?Big-Tech? companies, retailers and payments innovators.
  • UK Finance is also today publishing UK Cash & Cash Machines 2019. This report presents detailed information on who is using cash, and what they use it for. It also examines the ways in which we obtain cash for daily use and forecasts how the use of cash will change in the UK over the next ten years.

UK Finance is today providing an update on the banking and finance industry's commitment to help local communities secure appropriate free access to cash for customers. This follows the UK Finance announcement on 12 June 2019 which outlined proposed activity in support of the Access to Cash Review, and aligning with the existing activity undertaken by LINK.

Over the summer, UK Finance has been engaging with consumer representatives, local authority representatives and market participants, including LINK and its members, on the cash needs of local communities. Through this work it has become apparent that (outside of LINK's welcome commitment on ATM provision) the sustainability of the wider system to meet customer cash needs relies on strengthening complementary non-ATM solutions for cash and payment access. UK Finance's forward focus will include the ?recycling? of cash in local communities, improving access to digital alternatives and the engagement of key technology and infrastructure partners. Complementary to LINK's commitments, UK Finance will be focusing on solutions in the following five key areas:

  1. Commitment to LINK and the Post Office: UK Finance welcomes LINK's recent announcement on securing free cash access in key retail centres, supported by a strengthening of the Financial Inclusion programme for key communities. UK Finance members support and fund LINK and contracts with the Post Office (through the Banking Framework) to use 11,500 branches nationwide and will continue to monitor the effectiveness of cash provision through these channels closely and take action to improve delivery where necessary.   
  2. The Community Access to Cash Initiative: UK Finance is today launching this initiative to facilitate cross-industry work with local communities, through their elected officials (including MPs, members of devolved parliaments and assemblies, mayors and councillors), to help identify, report and address gaps and barriers to cash and payment provision. The initiative will provide grant support and industry guidance to local communities to improve access to cash and the adoption of alternative solutions where an ATM is not appropriate or required. Applications for grant support will be community-led and should be focused on building towards long-term solutions, for example:
  • Digital education awareness programmes
  • Driving community cashback
  • Helping local communities to connect with partners who can increase awareness of, and access to, available and secure cash provision

Applications can be submitted from early January through to 31 March 2020, with awards to be made by 31 May 2020.1 The assessment and award of grants will be considered by an Awards Committee made up of a cross-section of member and consumer representatives. Natalie Ceeney CBE has kindly agreed to Chair the inaugural meeting of the Award Committee in an independent capacity.

  1. Local community cash recycling: UK Finance believes that retailer cashback has a more significant role to play and can support the efficient recycling of cash in local communities, as well as providing much needed support for High Streets generally. Cashback can drive a healthy and efficient local cash ecosystem, whereby cash spend in shops is re-drawn and spent again locally, rather than directed back to central hubs for redistribution. UK Finance will monitor and support various retailer cashback pilots and initiatives that have the ability to drive efficient recycling of cash in local communities. UK Finance is encouraged by the positive dialogue it has held with regulators on supporting cashback initiatives which are in train.
  2. Access to digital innovation: UK Finance will work with key stakeholders, including Natalie Ceeney CBE, the UK and devolved governments, regulators and consumer representatives to encourage delivery of innovative digital solutions and help enable everyone to use digital payments through improving access to digital infrastructure and capabilities.
  3. Awareness and mapping: UK Finance will develop awareness campaigns and a comprehensive map of the available channels through which consumers can access cash (e.g. bank and building society networks, post office, ATMs, merchant cashback, etc).  UK Finance continues to believe that in a world of data, providing customers with information about where they can access cash is fundamental, particularly as more channels come online.  The banking and finance industry is now seeking partners to build a mapping capability which would provide consumers with information on their nearest free-to-use cash outlet.

Next Steps and Call for Partners

UK Finance will continue to work closely with HM Treasury, Bank of England, regulators, Natalie Ceeney CBE, consumer groups and the UK Finance Consumer Advisory Group as work is progressed on access to cash.

It has become increasingly clear that solutions to the access to cash challenge will be found through collaboration beyond the banking and finance industry.

The challenges and opportunities faced in securing appropriate access to cash and payment services for consumers are shared by the whole of society. UK Finance is therefore calling for partners across industries, including telecommunications and ?Big-Tech? companies, retailers and payment innovators, to engage on the solutions in the above areas.

Stephen Jones, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said:

The banking and finance industry is committed to ensuring access to cash remains free and widely accessible for those that continue to need it. Yet there is no ?one size fits all? approach and only via collaboration across government, regulators, industry, customer groups and communities can this be achieved. Understanding the needs of local communities is critical and the new Community Access to Cash Initiative will help identify the most appropriate access to cash and payment service solutions. Local cash recycling will play a pivotal role in the sustainability of the system, although we can't achieve a resilient and sustainable cash landscape on our own. It is vital we are supported by other sectors such as telecoms, retailers and infrastructure providers to assure widespread provision.

City minister, John Glen, said:

Technology is transforming how we manage our money, but with 11 billion payments made in cash last year we know that access remains a critical issue for many. Today's announcement shows the industry stepping up to the plate to ensure access to cash for people who need it, while also helping them to take advantage of the digital innovations that are giving so many of us greater control over our finances.

Area of expertise:

Notes to editor

<ol><li>Due to the General Election now taking place on 12 December, the dates for the application process have been updated since this press release was originally published on 30 September 2019. The independent Community Access to Cash Initiative will accept applications from local communities via their elected official. To ensure an appropriate response rate we have opted to delay the opening of the window for applications to January 2020, following the General Election.</li>
<li>UK Finance is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 250 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.</li>
<li>Context:</li>
</ol><p><img alt="" height="115" src="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/Access%20to%20…; width="300" /></p>
<p><img alt="" src="file:///C:/Users/LOCAL_~1.MCD/Temp/3/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.png" /></p>
<p><img alt="" height="156" src="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/Access%20to%20…; width="450" /></p>
<p><img alt="" src="file:///C:/Users/LOCAL_~1.MCD/Temp/3/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.png" /></p>
<p><img alt="" height="296" src="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/Access%20to%20…; width="599" /></p>
<p><em>Source: UK Finance Payment Markets Report 2019</em></p>
<p style="margin-left:18.0pt;"> </p>
<p style="margin-left:18.0pt;">Today, UK Finance is also publishing <em>UK Cash & Cash Machines 2019</em>. This report presents detailed information on who is using cash, and what they use it for. It also examines the ways in which we obtain cash for daily use and forecasts how the use of cash will change in the UK over the next ten years. A free summary of key findings from this report can be found <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/policy-and-guidance/reports-publications/u…;. The full report is also available for purchase via the UK Finance website.</p>
<p style="margin-left:18.0pt;">For a wider understanding on how cash relates to the other methods of payment used in the UK, we recommend our report <em>UK Payment Markets </em>2019. A free summary of this report can be found <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/pdf/UK-Finance…;.  A full version is available for purchase via the UK Finance website.</p>
<p style="margin-left:18.0pt;">The average number of payments made each month by the average adult was:</p>
<ul style="list-style-type:circle;"><li>28 card payments, of which 11 were contactless</li>
<li>17 cash payments</li>
<li>6 Direct Debits</li>
<li>1.3 payments via online banking or mobile banking</li>
<li>0.8 standing orders</li>
<li>0.3 cheques</li>
</ul><ol start="4"><li>Commitment to LINK and the Post Office: UK Finance welcomes LINK?s recent <a href="https://www.link.co.uk/about/news/link-access-to-cash-commitment/">anno…; on securing free cash access in key retail centres, supported by a strengthening of the Financial Inclusion programme for key communities. UK Finance members support and fund LINK and contracts with the Post Office (through the Banking Framework) to use 11,500 branches nationwide and will continue to monitor the effectiveness of cash provision through these channels closely and take action to improve delivery where necessary.</li>
<li value="5">Community Access to Cash Initiative: UK Finance is delighted to have LINK?s support for the new Community Access to Cash Initiative. The Initiative will operate on a ?test and learn basis? as UK Finance wants to understand issues and identify appropriate solutions. Outputs will inform the industry?s future strategy for assisting customers during the transition to a lower cash usage society.</li>
</ol><p style="margin-left:18.0pt;">UK Finance is seeking sustainable and resilient solutions that can be leveraged to help others and is calling on other industry partners to assist where appropriate and proportionate to need, but with an eye to vulnerable customers. The initiative will look for innovative opportunities and ways to connect with partners in technology, telecoms, education and infrastructure industries to deliver solutions.</p>
<p style="margin-left:18.0pt;">UK Finance will work closely with LINK to raise awareness of the application process among elected officials (including MPs, members of devolved parliaments and assemblies, mayors and councillors). Applications will be encouraged to support innovative measures to ensure genuine and positive outcomes for both consumer and small business customers.</p>
<ol start="6"><li>Access to cash provision: UK Finance and its members are working with the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cash-here-to-stay-as-government-comm… Authorities Cash Strategy Group</a> (JACS) and wider stakeholders, to ensure customers have a choice in how they pay for goods and services. To support the use of cash, all the high-street banks have arranged for everyday banking services to be available through 11,500 Post Offices across the country. Banks are also investing in ATMs and mobile bank branches to reach more rural communities.</li>
</ol><p style="margin-left:18.0pt;">UK Finance?s Access to Cash Working Group, comprising representatives of the largest retail banking institutions, has led UK Finance?s work in response in response to the Access to Cash Review recommendations and has agreed the work outlined above.</p>
<ol start="7"><li>At the Post Office, personal banking customers have the option to: withdraw cash, deposit cash or check their bank balance. Business customers can: deposit cash or cheques into their business bank account, withdraw money from their business bank account. check their current balance or get change when they need it. A <a href="https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww… action plan</a> to raise awareness of the service was launched in 2018.</li>
</ol><p style="margin-left:17.85pt;">LINK <a href="https://www.link.co.uk/about/news/link-access-to-cash-commitment/">anno…; on 30 August that funding will be made available to protect free access to cash for every high street in the UK. With immediate effect, should a high street be threatened with the loss of an ATM, and there is no alternative source of cash, LINK will step in to ensure that an ATM is made available and paid for with funding from all the UK?s main banks and building societies.</p>
<p style="margin-left:17.85pt;">LINK is protecting all ?retail centres? in the UK with five or more qualifying retailers. Qualifying retailers means most shops and retailers other than those such as cash and carry and restaurants. Free access to cash means a free ATM or Post Office counter within one kilometre of the weighted mid-point of the retail centre. There are currently c6,500 retail centres like this in the UK.</p>
<p style="margin-left:17.85pt;">LINK has also announced that, for the first time, it will directly commission free-to-use ATMs in communities with poor access to cash. Over the coming months, and with the support of local MPs and councils, ATMs will be installed in Battle, East Sussex, Bungay, Suffolk, Hill Top in Nuneaton, Tywyn in Wales, and Durness in Scotland. The locations will form a restricted trial that will run through 2020.</p>
<ol start="8"><li>Local community cash recycling: The recent announcement by <a href="https://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/press-releases/mastercard-aims-to-bo…; on support for retailers providing cashback is a positive step and UK Finance is continuing to monitor the progress of various cashback pilots which are planned or underway. UK Finance is calling for other partners to step forward to support the unlocking of this key channel and building greater resilience and sustainability in the UK cash system.</li>
</ol><ol start="9"><li>Access to digital innovation: UK Finance is working with Natalie Ceeney CBE, HM Treasury, Bank of England, PSR, FCA, Innovate Finance and consumer group representatives to identify a range of consumer payment needs which can be solved through an iterative innovation process. This will include working through the ways in which digital tools can help specific vulnerable consumer groups such as the digitally excluded elderly. For each group or theme the most impactful innovation will be backed before moving on to the next group, thereby covering a wide range of needs over time.</li>
</ol>