Payments Council explores 'access to cash' barriers

Source: Payments Council

The Payments Council today (11 March 2013) publishes two reports Access to cash: qualitative research and Access to cash: quantitative research which review consumer and business satisfaction with access to cash. This research forms the first phase of a Payments Council project. The next step will be to identify whether any improvements can be made.

The quantitative survey looked at the overall picture and covered consumers and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). It found the substantial majority of consumers (81%) said it was very easy for them to get the cash that they need. There were also high levels of satisfaction among those who get cash using cash machines, counters or cashback.

For many, access to cash has improved in recent years. Compared to three years ago, 24% of consumers think that it is easier for them to get cash now and 71% think that it is about the same. Only 2% think that it has become harder to get the cash that they need.

SMEs generally reported low cash use but most users have no real issues withdrawing it.

Qualitative research focused on consumers likely to have issues accessing cash. It focused on people on low incomes and living in rural areas and identified that some of these consumers do encounter barriers to accessing cash. These are primarily low-income consumers who are struggling to manage very tight budgets, particularly those who are not in employment and people living on social housing estates outside towns. The difficulties experienced included:

ATMs in poorly-served areas which are sometimes out of order or may have run out of cash.
Limited access to free ATMs in some areas.
Limited availability of small denomination notes at ATMs, particularly £5 notes which many consumers find useful.
Security fears about using ATMs in areas of high crime or anti-social behaviour.
Queues at some very busy ATMs in poorly-served areas, resulting in lengthy waits in some cases.
Adrian Kamellard, Payments Council chief executive, says:

"It's encouraging that the substantial majority of consumers and businesses are able to get cash easily, but the Payments Council's focus is on those who have reported difficulties - particularly as these customers are often those most dependent on cash to help them manage on a tight budget. Using what we've learnt from this research over the next year we'll be looking to identify any practical steps to deliver improvements for them."

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