Cash-stricken areas are looking for alternative bank branches, could churches be the answer?

The closure of cash machines and bank branches has led to losses for local firms and left consumers feeling concerned. As time goes on and we drift more into a cashless society, access to cash is becoming more of a concern.

Trials across eight locations have been confirmed as part of a project to solve issues with access to cash. Consumers will still have access to cashback from convenience stores, even if they do no shopping. Hay-on-Wye, home to a major book festival is one of the places that will host a trial. The financial hub will be in a Methodist church with drop-and-go deposit points for small firms being tested out.

The plans come from a major report conducted by the Access to Cash Review that found, eight million people in the UK are reliant on notes and coins; ranging from those who are not comfortable with digital payments to those without a bank account.

The eight trial areas will include remote communities, such as Bolton in North Yorkshire; testing pop-up Post Offices in small shop and bank hubs in retail spaces. Shops in four areas will trial the purchase-free cashback plan and be remunerated for providing the service.

Natalie Ceeney, who wrote the access to cash report said, “It’s critical we find ways to protect the viability of cash for consumers and communities alike”. Reports on the project status will be published next Summer.

In Ampthill, there is now just one cash machine to serve the 8000 residents, previously there was two bank branches in Ampthill. Residents rely on using cash to try and control their spending, so are of great importance to them. Small towns such as Ampthill and Hay-on-Waye , who have seen bank branches or cash machines disappear will find themselves apart of the trial to allow access to physical money.

It is no doubt that in the current COVID-19 climate, contactless is the safest way to pay but we have to ensure that consequently we don’t become a cashless society as evidently from the statistics the UK is not ready for that yet.

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