Customers of 28 banks are currently able to use various banking services in Post Office branches. But earlier this month, Barclays announced it would no longer permit its customers to withdraw cash from post offices beginning in January, a decision that was widely criticized by Post Office officials as well as supporters of rural communities and elderly customers, who are generally more reliant on cash and must deal with a lack of bank branches.
As a result of the criticism, the bank has reversed its position, saying it “will now maintain a full service proposition in the Post Office for our customers, including cash withdrawals using a debit card, for the next three years.”
“Ultimately we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network,” explained Barclays Group CEO Jes Staley. “Whilst we have concerns regarding the sustainability of relying on this model in the longer term, and want to work with Government and others to address the problems inherent in it, we recognize that the Post Office is a network valued by many communities in the U.K. today.”
That is good news for Barclays customers, who make around 1.2 million cash withdrawals from post offices every month, according to Natalie Ceeney, a former financial ombudsman.
“I’m glad Barclays have come to this decision,” she said, according to the Financial Times. “… Lessons need to be learnt by government. The cash infrastructure is fragile and cannot be left solely to commercial interests.”
Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, a consumer group, added: “Barclays’ decision to bow to public pressure and reverse this move will be a massive relief for its customers, who have seen almost 500 high street branches close over the last four years … the industry cannot be relied on to prevent people being stripped of access to cash and vital financial services, so the government must urgently intervene with legislation that protects cash for as long as it is needed.”