The Financial Conduct Authority has made it clear to banks that maintaining access to cash in local communities remains a regulatory priority that the industry should take on board when making decisions on the future of their branches and ATMs.
The watchdog has published draft guidance for firms setting out its expectations for banks, building societies and credit unions when they are considering closing branches or ATMs, or converting a free to use ATM to pay to use.
The guidance sets out the FCA’s expectation that firms should carefully consider the impact of a planned closure or conversion on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, including withdrawals, deposits and other cash-related branch services such as cheque cashing.
It also sets out the FCA’s expectation that firms consider providing, and put in place alternative access arrangements where it is reasonable to do so, such as sharing services with other providers, providing mobile banking hubs or cash delivery services, or commissioning a free-to-use ATM.
Sheldon Mills, interim executive director of strategy and competition says: "Access to cash is a priority for the FCA. While in the recent climate we have seen some consumers move to digital payments, we have also seen the importance of the continued availability of cash to many consumers, including those most vulnerable.
"We’ve published this guidance to remind firms of our expectations, which firms need to take account of throughout their decision-making process on the future of their branches or ATMs."