Financial Inclusion

UK Lawmakers, Regulators Call For Cash System Overhaul

U.K. Payment Methods

Lawmakers and regulators in the U.K. called for an overhaul of the cash system in the country to avoid people from being completely shut out.

Reuters, citing lawmakers and regulators in the U.K., reported there is concern that as free-to-use cash machines and ATMs are shuttered because of declining demand for cash, customers who rely on cash will be left in the lurch.

“The national system for people to have access to their cash via machines is basically broken,” said Nicky Morgan, chair of Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Charles Randell, Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) chair, told a committee that everyone is in agreement that the system needs to be looked at with fresh eyes. He said that while regulators can “hold the line,” the decline in the demand for cash may quicken its pace as more people embrace digital contactless payments. The news outlet noted that Randell said lawmakers and regulators could look at whether the commercial sector should cover future subsidies or if some of the cash machines could be publicly funded.

Reuters reported separately that the consumer group Which? has contended that 3,000 cash machines have been removed in the U.K. during the second half of last year. The group wants the government to create a new regulator that would be charged with overseeing cash. As it stands there are more than 60,000 ATMs in the U.K. as of the end of 2018. Meanwhile, PSR Chief EXecutive Hannah Nixon told lawmakers that there is a process on the books to address ATM closures and that cash and cheques aren’t going away as long as Britians want to use them.

Based on data from the fall, cash purchases in the U.K. declined 1 percent in 2017 and accounted for just 22 percent of purchases in 2018. Data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) at the time showed that there were almost 20 billion retail transactions over the year in the U.K., but that most of those consumers preferred to pay with plastic.

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