Banks face fines if access to cash is denied
Banks and building societies could be fined if consumers are unable to withdraw cash without charge.
The Financial Conduct Authority now has powers to enforce “minimum” levels of service which means 95% of people and businesses in urban areas will be within one mile of free access to cash withdrawals.
In rural areas the minimum is three miles. This includes free-to-access cash machines and cash back in shops.
The Treasury’s new demand builds on laws granted through the new Financial Services and Markets Act and the FCA will use these new powers to make sure banks and building societies are keeping up to these standards – and have the power to fine them if they do not.
The tightening of access powers follows data last year showing that a quarter of cash dispensers had been removed as card payments continue to rise, a process accelerated by the pandemic.
The number of online payments has risen from 45% to 85% in the past ten years, but ministers say cash remains an integral part of many businesses and people’s lives.
However, the number of free-to-use cash machines in the UK has dropped to 38,429, the lowest number since 2008.
Andrew Griffith, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “People shouldn’t have to trek for hours to withdraw a tenner to put in someone’s birthday card, nor should businesses have to travel large distances to deposit cash takings.
“These are measures which benefit everyone who uses cash but particularly those living in rural areas, the elderly and those with disabilities.”