UK banks back better wholesale cash infrastructure

The Bank of England has announced that UK banks funding the wholesale cash infrastructure have made commitments to ensure an “effective, resilient, and sustainable” cash infrastructure which will support continued retail access to cash.

The wholesale cash market sits between the issuers of new notes and coins and that cash being sent to individual bank branches, Post Offices, ATMs, and retailers.

The Bank of England said that with the use of cash for transactions declining, action is needed to ensure that this system remains able to support cash as a viable payment method into the future.

The move was made by the Wholesale Distribution Streeting Group, convened by the Bank.

As a result of the work of the group, the UK banks that fund or participate in the wholesale cash
infrastructure and the UK wholesale cash operators have today made the following commitments:

• To ensure there is adequate resilience of the wholesale cash infrastructure so it can effectively underpin access to cash for wholesale and retail customers across the UK.

• To work with the Bank of England to ensure processing efficiencies are maximised and costs are managed as usage of cash declines in the UK, so that cash remains an accessible payment method for as long as it is needed.

• To reduce the environmental impact of wholesale cash processing, in particular by:
- Aiming for Net Zero for each organisation’s own operations by 2030; and
- Aiming to use 100 per cent renewable electricity for each organisation’s own wholesale cash operations by early 2024.

“Cash remains an important way of making payments, and the ability to use cash is critical for many people in the UK,” said chair of the Wholesale Distribution Steering Group, the Bank of England’s chief cashier Sarah John. “That is why we have to make sure the infrastructure for distributing cash around the country remains viable in the years to come.

“The commitments made today will ensure that the provision of cash services to households and firms is underpinned by an effective, sustainable and resilient cash distribution network."

The Bank of England has asked industry participants to bring forward by the end of the first quarter of 2022, individual, measurable commitments with a set of key indicators and criteria that they are willing to be held accountable for.

To help support this, HM Treasury will provide the Bank of England with the powers that it needs to keep the wholesale infrastructure sustainable and resilient into the future.

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