Treasury Committee: UK Risks ‘Inadvertently Becoming Cashless Society’

The Treasury Committee has published its final report on consumer’s access to financial services, calling for access to cash and consumer choice to be protected.

In the report, the Committee outlines its support of the recommendations made in the Access to Cash review, and expresses its concern about the rate at which free to use ATMs have been closing. The report states that without action, the UK risks inadvertently becoming a cashless society and that ‘for a large portion of society, including some of the most vulnerable, this would have stark consequences’.

The Committee’s report cites evidence from ACS on the impact of LINK’s cuts to interchange fees. ACS evidence showed that reductions in interchange fees are having a negative impact on access to financial services for vulnerable consumers by reducing the coverage of the free to use ATM network, and that LINK’s Financial Inclusion Programme is also failing to prevent ATM blackspots and closures of isolated ATMs.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This report is another important voice calling for access to cash and consumer choice to be protected. We need action now to stop the trend of free to use cash machines disappearing, which must consider interchange fee cuts as the root cause of the issue. Providing free access to cash for consumers is an important part of the offer for thousands of convenience stores, but this is under threat right now and needs to be addressed as soon as possible with intervention from the Payment Systems Regulator.”

The Access to Cash review (https://www.accesstocash.org.uk/), published in March this year, made a series of recommendations on ways to ensure that all communities can retain free access to their cash in the future. Additionally, earlier this month the Treasury announced the creation of a new Cash Strategy Group made up of regulators, the Treasury and the Bank of England to safeguard consumers access to cash.

The Treasury Committee launched its inquiry in order to assess whether certain groups of consumers are excluded from obtaining a basic level of service from financial services providers, and whether vulnerable consumers pay more for financial services products. The full Treasury Committee report can be found here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmtreasy/1642/1642.pdf

This entry was posted by Chloe on Mon, 13/05/2019 - 12:17
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