FCA given new powers to protect access to cash

The FCA has been handed new powers to protect access to cash for consumers across the UK.
Under the upcoming Financial Services and Markets Bill, the government is for the first time handing regulatory powers to the FCA to ensure that the UK’s largest banks and building societies maintain availability of withdrawal and deposit facilities in local communities.

To support the FCA, the government will in due course set out its expectations for a reasonable distance for people to travel when depositing and withdrawing cash.

This will reflect the existing spread of cash withdrawal and deposit facilities in the UK.
Cash is now the second most frequently used method of payment in the UK, and around 5.4 million adults continue use it to a very great or great extent in their daily lives, despite the rise of contactless and digital payments.

Last month the government announced its intention to legislate to provide the Bank of England with the powers necessary to ensure the UK’s wholesale cash infrastructure - which includes the network of cash centres integral to the sorting, storing and distribution of notes and coin - remains effective, resilient, and sustainable, and continues to support access to cash across the UK.

Commenting on the move, economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “Millions of people across the UK still rely on cash, particularly those in vulnerable groups, and today we are delivering on our promise to ensure that access to cash is protected in communities across the country.

“I want to make sure that people are still able to use cash as part of their daily lives, and it’s crucial to ensure that no person nor community across the UK is left behind as we embrace a more digital world.”

In his Mansion House Speech last year, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak set out his plans for the UK to remain at the forefront of innovation and technology.

Glen explained that the government recognises “the need to embrace the transition to a more digital world and realise the opportunities this brings individuals and businesses.”
“But as we transition to a digital payments system, it is critical to acknowledge that cash access remains vital to millions of people in communities across the UK, particularly those in vulnerable groups, and no one should be left behind,” he added.

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