The UK's Financial Conduct Authority has outlined measures to reduce the risk of money laundering via the Post Office, as more banks quit the high street and hand over the handling of cash services to the postal service.
The regulator brought together partners including the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), industry and government to strengthen controls, including a move towards card-based transactions and away from paying-in slips, where possible, to allow enhanced monitoring.
The FCA will also expect banks to improve their monitoring capabilities for suspicious transactions conducted over the Post Office network and reduce the time taken to report anomolous activies to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Post Offices have become an important part of protecting access to cash for people and small businesses in the UK as banks continue to downsize their branch networks.
The NECC estimates that hundreds of millions are laundered each year through the cash deposit channel at the Post Office.
While banks have made some progress in improving safeguards, including a 43% drop in the time taken to report suspicious activity at Post Offices, there is still more work to do, says Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said:
"We have worked in partnership with law enforcement, industry and government partners to ensure people and businesses can still draw on the vital cash banking services provided by the Post Office, while addressing gaps that criminals could abuse," he says. "This important work is part of the FCA’s three-year strategy on reducing financial crime and increasing consumer protection."