Lloyds Banking Group, the U.K. bank, announced Tuesday (Feb. 19) a partnership with Visa in which the two have launched a new pilot scheme aimed at boosting access to cash.
In a press release, Lloyds Banking said the new pilot scheme will result in local retailers getting paid to offer cash back to customers in their stores. As it stands now, business owners do not receive a fee when providing cash back to customers. The new fee will provide more support to retailers and at the same time increase the number of places that people can withdraw money, Lloyds said. The pilot is not supposed to be a substitute for ATMs or bank branches but is focused on creating more availability where access to cash is hard to come by and still provide customers with the option to pay with cards and mobile devices. The cash-back incentives will be targeted at areas in the U.K. that have been identified as places where it is hard to access cash, such as rural and less affluent areas with only a small number of ATMs.
The hope is that the new pilot scheme will also give customers additional reasons to visit shops in the U.K., which have been facing challenges recently.
“Our new cashback pilot, in partnership with Visa, aims to increase the number of places where people can withdraw their money, particularly in those areas which are currently under-served by free-to-use ATMs where a customer’s access to cash may be more vulnerable,” said Vim Maru, Group Director, Retail, Lloyds Banking Group, in the press release. “The unlocked potential of cashback is obvious, as there are literally tens of thousands of local shops up and down our high streets that already have all the infrastructure in place to offer this service. We need to make it more viable for them to offer cashback to all customers, whether making a purchase or not.”
According to Lloyds, while the use of notes and coins in the U.K. has been on the decline in the past few years, millions of people in the country still rely on cash, particularly certain groups such as the elderly. While ATMs are readily available for most of the U.K. population, there are those who live in more remote and isolated locations and can’t access cash so easily. At the same time, there are tens of thousands of local shops that have the infrastructure in place to offer cash back, noted Lloyds.