Our Chair, Natalie Ceeney CBE, reflects on the launch of Cash Access UK
When I published the Access to Cash Review in 2019, I highlighted the dangers of sleepwalking into a cashless society, leaving millions of people behind and damaging the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society. I challenged government and the financial services industry to act decisively before it was too late.
Three years later, the founding of Cash Access UK marks the culmination of three years of co-operation and hard work. From a standing start, through the Cash Action Group we have tested brand new cash access solutions with thousands of people across the UK in the Community Access to Cash Pilots, introduced ground-breaking voluntary arrangements with LINK to determine where new services are needed, and set up Cash Access UK, a fully funded, not-for-profit company whose sole purpose is to deliver shared cash and basic banking services to those who need them most.
Cash Access UK’s Member firms have not only put time and considerable funding into this initiative. They have embraced the opportunity to think differently and collaboratively – recognising that the individual actions of firms have a collective impact on communities.
Government too has shown commitment to securing the future of access to cash. If enacted as currently drafted, the Financial Services and Markets Bill will introduce, for the first time, a legislative framework to ensure there are reasonable levels of access to cash in UK communities. It will also give a single authority, the FCA, responsibility for overseeing the maintenance of a well-functioning cash system.
While there is an element of continuity as we move forward, we are entering a different phase. Our Member firms will soon have new statutory and regulatory responsibilities and Cash Access UK is a fully functioning company. And there is a lot to do.
As the first Chair of Cash Access UK, I am delighted to be able to continue my involvement in this vital initiative. Protecting access to cash for some of the most vulnerable people in society has never been more important, and Cash Access UK will play a critical role in ensuring that no-one is left behind as banking and payments become increasingly digital.