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Trial locations for cash project revealed

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Community Access to Cash Pilot (CACP) has announced eight locations that will participate in trials to help address the challenges of improving cash access and acceptance.

The selected communities, which are spread across the UK, will trial new ways of keeping cash viable for individuals and businesses.

Ways to make improvements could include installing new ATMs, having a place for retailers to deposit cash locally, or sharing bank branch facilities.

The project will also focus on “digital inclusion” such as better broadband connections or improving the digital skills of local people.

The CACP is chaired by Natalie Ceeney, the author of the Access to Cash Review.

The pilot follows recent report from UK Finance showing cash use now represents less than one-quarter (23%) of all payments in the UK, a 15% drop year-on-year.

These numbers were taken before the coronavirus pandemic with Link, the UK’s main cash machine network, showing a 60% year-on-year fall in volumes during the early part of the lockdown.

A study by Nationwide last week found the average Brit had not used cash for the past 44 days.

The communities taking part in the trial are:

  • Ampthill (Bedforshire)
  • Burslem (Staffordshire)
  • Botton Village (North Yorkshire)
  • Cambuslang (South Lanarkshire, Scotland)
  • Denny (Falkirk, Scotland)
  • Hay on Wye (Powys, Wales)
  • Lulworth (Dorset)
  • Rochford (Essex)

Natalie Ceeney, CACP chair, says: “Over the past decade we’ve seen a massive shift from cash to digital payments, and Covid-19 has accelerated that trend further. But we know that digital payments don’t yet work for everyone, and for many individuals and communities, cash remains essential.

“But the world is changing – we can’t just magic back our old bank branch and ATM infrastructure. Instead, we need to use innovation to develop new solutions as well as harness tried and tested approaches to meet people’s needs.”

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, says: “With the existing cash system being pushed closer to the edge of collapse by the coronavirus outbreak, it’s clear that new solutions are desperately needed to secure people’s access and ability to pay with cash, which millions of people still rely on as their main form of payment.

“The industry and government should look closely at how they can ensure successful innovations are rolled out quickly and effectively across the country. But it is also vital for the government to push ahead with legislation promised in the last Budget to protect cash for as long as people need it.”

UK Finance said the announcement of the pilot areas was a significant milestone and that the banking and finance industry was committed to ensuring that access to cash remains free and widely accessible to those people who need it.

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