On 13 May 2021, the FCA and Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) issued a joint statement concerning access to cash.

The statement notes that the overall decline in the use of cash makes it more expensive to maintain the existing infrastructure that supports it. However, as we move out of the COVID-19 pandemic, cash continues to serve a socially useful purpose for many communities. Following a fall in ATM withdrawals of 40% year-on-year across 2020, withdrawals have started to increase again since restrictions have begun to ease. The FCA and the PSR are committed to ensuring that cash, and the infrastructure that supports it, remains available for those who need it.

The statement goes on to discuss:

  • What the FCA and PSR have done about cash.
  • Legislation to protect cash.
  • FCA and PSR expectations of firms.
  • Industry activity and regulatory expectations.

In terms of the FCA and PSR expectations of firms, the statement makes the following points:

  • The FCA and PSR expect individual firms to play their part in protecting the ability of customers to access cash and wider banking services in ways that meet their needs, particularly vulnerable customers and SMEs.
  • Individual firms are responsible for making sure that when they close a branch or ATM in a local area, there are alternatives available to provide services at a standard of service that meets the needs of the customers using that branch or ATM. Firms will need to consider the ability to withdraw and deposit cash, safety, accessibility and opening times.
  • To meet these responsibilities, over the short-term firms are likely to rely on the current alternatives to branches to a large extent, such as Post Office and LINK services. The FCA and PSR think there can be significant benefits from making the most of, and where necessary enhancing the existing services and policies. Over the longer-term there will also be scope for firms to use other alternatives and innovations.