Cash in the community

Cash in the community

The use of cash is a highly debated topic. We have seen dramatic changes over the last several years with the banking infrastructure in the UK. And whilst some customers may choose to go cashless, millions of people still rely on cash and it’s important those who need it, have easy and convenient access to it.

The Community Access to Cash Pilot (CACP) initiative has today announced plans for the nine Cash Pilot locations across the UK, where trials are being tested to help address challenges of improving cash access and acceptance.

The initiative is led by Natalie Ceeney CBE, the author of the Access to Cash Review and brings together the resources and expertise of the financial services industry, including all of the major retail banks. Post Office will also be supporting the initiative.

The nine locations chosen are based on the issue the community faces and local people willing to lead on the pilots.

During the pilot, the nine communities will be trialling a number of different solutions based on local needs. Several solutions will be tested, including cash back in local stores, restaurant and pubs, to speedy and automated local cash deposit facilities for small businesses.

The locations are Ampthill in Bedfordshire, Burslem in Staffordshire, Botton Village in North Yorkshire, Cambuslang in South Lanarkshire, Denny in Stirlingshire, Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Lulworth in Dorset, and Rochford in Essex and Millisle, County Down in Northern Ireland.

We are working with Postmasters in these communities to help them maximise the opportunity and remain front and centre in continuing to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Each pilot community will start implementing their solutions and they will be fully operational by the end of 2020. The pilots will operate for the first six months of the 2021 and will report back their findings in the summer of 2021. The aim of these pilots is to trial solutions which could have wider applicability across the UK.

Commenting on the initiative, Nick Read, Group Chief Executive, Post Office said: “Our branches provide critical cash deposit and withdrawals services for millions of personal and business customers every week. We will use these pilots to trial new designs in selected branches; and introduce automated cash deposit facilities for business and personal customers who may have previously used this service at a bank branch. Everyone should have the right to use cash and be able to easily and securely access it wherever is most convenient to them. We are pleased to be playing a key role in these pilots and our Postmasters who are taking part will be in a position to share important insights that will make a real difference as to how we continue to best meet peoples’ cash needs in future.”

Natalie Ceeney, Chair, Community Access to Cash Pilot said: “Cash remains critically important to both individuals and communities across the UK. The rapid switch to digital is threatening the viability of today’s cash infrastructure. This can lead to consumers left without cash access or forced to leave their own village or town to get cash elsewhere, often at significant inconvenience and cost. In turn, local retailers lose custom, as consumers spend their case elsewhere, and then struggle to bank their cash takings without shutting up shop to drive to a bank branch some miles away, losing revenue and frustrating customers. It’s critical that we find ways to protect the viability of cash, for consumers and communities alike.

“These pilots are designed to find sustainable ways to keep cash viable locally, which, if successful, can then be rolled out more widely. The government has already committed to legislate to protect cash, and the financial services regulators are working closely with banks to identify practical next steps. Our aim is to use the pilots to critically inform this work.

“The work we’ve done with local communities has shown us in some detail what is needed. It’s clear that to keep communities viable, people need to be able to get cash easily, in a variety of ways. ATMs are important, but don’t meet everyone’s needs, particularly the most vulnerable, so being able to get cash over a counter, in a safe space, is still important to many. Small businesses equally need to be able to deposit cash, and locally, so that they don’t need to close their shop to bank their cash.

“These pilots will use innovative technology to help people access and deposit cash. The pilots will also work with key existing service providers to explore how they can support the cash infrastructure, by creating local drop in spaces for community banking, retailers offering cashback widely and Post Offices enhancing their services to create a new model of ‘Post Office Banking Hubs’. The commitment of the major banks, the Post Office, LINK and key consumer groups to all work together on this initiative gives us confidence that we can create solutions which keep cash viable in a sustainable way.

Further information about the Community Access to Cash Pilot is available here, https://communityaccesstocashpilots.org/