On 15 December 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) published a response to the announcement from the Cash Action Group (CAG) which stated that retail banks and building societies will create an independent body to assess the needs of local communities and direct cash solutions.
The FCA and PSR state that currently most people have reasonable access to cash and they monitor and publish coverage levels quarterly. Firms should also continue to follow the FCA’s guidance on branch and ATM closures or conversions and guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. In addition, the PSR has recently consulted on replacing Specific Direction 8 which has been successful in maintaining a broad geographic spread of free to use ATMs.
In July 2021, the Government consulted on legislating to protect access to cash long-term and legislation is expected in the future. In the meantime the FCA and PSR will continue to monitor access.
Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, said: “It is crucial that appropriate access to cash is maintained for those who need it, so we welcome this industry initiative by the Cash Action Group. Banks and building societies remain responsible for assessing the impact any closures of their branches may have on their customers, including those with characteristics of vulnerability, and for considering what alternatives could reasonably be put in place. We hope this initiative will help maintain access to cash and will be watching it as it develops.”