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Innovation in Community Access to Cash Pilots unveiled

The Community Access to Cash Pilot (CACP) initiative has today announced the 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

In June, eight locations were chosen based on the location, the issues the communities faced, and the local people willing to lead the pilots. A further pilot has now been confirmed in Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Each community will be trialling a number of different solutions, based on meeting the needs of local communities. These will include:

  • Three new local ‘banking hubs’ in dedicated retail spaces on the high street, which combine the cash-transaction facilities of a Post Office with access to community banking services offered by the key retail banks, allowing the privacy and security people expect in a bank branch
  • Speedy and automated local cash deposit facilities for small businesses, so that retailers don’t have to close to travel to a nearby town bank branch to deposit their takings
  • Existing Post Office branches restructured and refurbished with cash services streamlined to make it easier for local residents and businesses to withdraw and deposit cash quickly and safely.
  • Pop-up Post Office services, allowing small communities to access basic banking services over a Post Office counter within an existing small shop
  • Widespread ‘cashback’ from local stores, restaurants and pubs – as well as from PayPoint counters, and new app-based digital services – to widen the options for people to get cash locally, and to help business reduce their own costs of depositing cash
  • New, free to use ATMs
  • Digital education services to help those who want to access digital banking services

Each pilot community will start implementing their solutions over the remainder of 2020, with the aim that they are all 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.

These pilots operate in a wider context of a UK-wide cash infrastructure under threat, millions dependent on cash, and a government commitment to legislate to protect cash access. The aim of these pilots is to trial solutions which could have wider applicability across the UK.

CACP is chaired 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) with those of the Access to Review panel. The team is also working closely with a wide range of local and national consumer groups and charities to bring in depth expertise to help support the work.

Natalie Ceeney, Chair, Community Access to Cash Pilot: “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 cash 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.”

Nick Read, Chief Executive, Post Office: “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.”

Alison Rose, CEO, NatWest: “We know that cash is an important part of the way that many communities across the UK bank with us, which is why we have worked with the industry to help create this pilot programme. The lessons we learn from working with communities to develop innovative solutions are really important as we continue to invest in sustaining access to cash and financial capability.”

John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister: “Cash remains important to the daily lives of millions of people across the UK, and protecting access to it is a key Government priority. I welcome the Community Access to Cash Pilot Initiative, which will test innovative new approaches to support access to cash in local communities that can be extended across the UK. Thank you to Natalie Ceeney and all industry participants for their important work to ensure we support consumers and businesses who continue to need to use cash.”

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