PSR ‘concerned’ by Barclays ending Post Office cash service
Written by Hannah McGrath
The Payments Systems Regulator (PSR) has expressed its concern at plans announced by Barclays to removed cash withdrawal services from the Post Office network.
The High Street lender announced yesterday that customers and businesses would still be able to pay in cash, cheques and check their balance at Post Office branches, however over the counter cash withdrawals will end from January 2020.
A statement from the PSR said the decision would reduce the number of places customers could access “critical banking services” which are currently supported by the Post Office network.
“We are concerned about the impact this will have, and we will be closely monitoring the steps Barclays plan to take to make sure there are suitable alternatives for its customers to access their cash – especially those who rely on cash or who live in rural areas,” the PSR added.
The move came as part of a wide-ranging policy announcement from Barclays to adapt its branch network to the rise in online and digital banking services whilst protecting access to cash for those living in remote communities, including a pledge to freeze branch closures for the next two years where the branch is the last in town or in a remote location.
Barclays said it would also introduce a cashback scheme enabling customers to withdraw cash at businesses in remote towns and areas where there is no branch or ATM alternative within 1km. This will launch in over 200 locations from January 2020.
Adam Rowse, managing director of branch-based banking at Barclays, said: “We are constantly exploring new ways to evolve the role of the branch, by maintaining last in town or remote branches over the next two years, and working with the community, we hope to increase demand and keep these branches viable.
“We also recognise that there are opportunities to support customers with access to cash where there is no branch or ATM nearby,” Rowse continued. “We are launching a cash back offering working with merchants to give customers access to cash over the counter – by behaving differently, we hope to see a real difference in how customers interact with us.”
The Post Office also confirmed yesterday that the rest of the UK’s banks will continue to offer full banking services to their customers through the Post Office.
The PSR said it was considering whether the decline in access to cash would make it appropriate to use its regulatory powers to further ensure public commitments about the ongoing availability of access to free-to-use ATMs for UK consumers are met.
It added: “There is an ongoing debate about how best to protect access to cash and we will continue to work closely with government and our fellow regulators to consider whether further steps are needed.”