Barclays makes Post Office cash access u-turn

Barclays makes Post Office cash access u-turn

Barclays says it will no longer stop customers withdrawing cash from the UK's network of post offices, reversing its earlier position after accusations of "penny-pinching" by politicians.

Barclays Group CEO Jes Staley says: "We have listened very carefully to points that have been made to us by Ministers in the Government, by MPs, and by interested charities and consumer advocates.

“Ultimately we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network.

“Whilst we have concerns regarding the sustainability of relying on this model in the longer term, and want to work with Government and others to address the problems inherent in it, we recognise that the Post Office is a network valued by many communities in the UK today.

“So we have amended our position, and will now maintain a full service proposition in the Post Office for our customers, including cash withdrawals using a debit card, for the next three years.”

Thee u-turn came after the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee called the inital move a "highly retrograde step" and said the policy hurt vulnerable customers, undermined the Post Office network, and hit poorly remunerated sub-postmasters.

The Committee's report on the Future of the Post Office Network called on the bank to reverse the decision and also signaled that it intended to haul in Barclays bank bosses to face questions on the impact of the move.

Rachel Reeves, Committee chair, said: “The decision by Barclays to stop its customers accessing their own money from post offices is a petty penny-pinching move which has triggered a deserved backlash from small businesses and the public alike. Barclays should live up to their social responsibilities, execute a swift U-turn and dump this policy. If Barclays are in any doubt about what decision they should make, we look forward to questioning them in the coming weeks on the impact of this move for customers, small businesses and post-masters.”

With ATMs and bank branches being closed across the country, the deal between banks and the Post Office is often touted by authorities as an important way of ensuring Brits still have easy access to cash.

Barclays had said that it was ending the Post Office service because it is taking action elsewhere: promising to freeze branch closures for the next two years where the site is a 'Last in Town' option or a remote branch.

In addition, the bank pointed to a new cashback scheme for small businesses and its support of the Link ATM network's efforts to ensure that free cash machine access is available across the country.

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 October, 2019, 15:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This very public display of how the banking industry is largely responsible for creating the so-called "Un-Banked" consumer population should remind all consumers that financial institutions require both tight regulation and constant oversight -- lest they forget that they exist to serve consumers NOT the other way round.

The government grants banks a regulatory monopoly to hold deposits and make loans in return for their commitment to serve the citizens of the country.  Sadly, captured bank regulators continue to ignore their responsibility to enforce this commitment on the institutions they are supposed to supervise.

At the same time, regulators do nothing to help Challenger Banks and other bank-alternatives succeed in addressing the needs of consumers un-served, under-served or ill-served by High Street Banks.