FSB calls for bold steps to preserve cash accessibility

FSB calls for bold steps to preserve cash accessibility

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has recently voiced its opinion on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s current proposals aimed at ensuring the availability of cash withdrawal and deposit facilities.

While acknowledging the FCA’s efforts as a positive initiation, the FSB argues for a more robust approach to prevent the ongoing decline in cash access infrastructure.

The FCA, empowered by the Financial Services and Markets Act of last year, has outlined proposals including a comprehensive cash assessment process responsive to local needs, transparent publication of assessment outcomes, and timely delivery of additional cash access services. These measures aim to mitigate the cost burdens associated with limited cash access for both consumers and businesses. However, the FSB believes these steps, although in the right direction, fall short of addressing the broader ecosystem of cash services essential for small firms.

Bank branch closures and a dwindling ATM network pose significant challenges, not only limiting cash withdrawal options but also affecting local cash deposit facilities and assisted cash services crucial for small business operations. The FSB’s critique extends to the FCA’s proposed cash access request scheme, which is seen as insufficient in stemming the tide of infrastructural decline.

To bolster the FCA’s initiatives, the FSB suggests an expansion of focus beyond ATMs to include comprehensive support for cash deposit services and face-to-face assistance. It advocates for leveraging FCA powers to expedite the development of banking hubs that cater to SME banking and deposit services. Despite identifying the need for over a hundred hubs, progress has been slow, with only 33 opened so far.

Martin McTague, FSB’s National Chair, emphasizes the critical role of cash in ensuring a flexible payments ecosystem, supporting not only small businesses but also vulnerable communities reliant on cash transactions. He highlights the collective impact of commercial decisions on cash accessibility, urging the FCA to adopt a more ambitious stance to protect and enhance the payments infrastructure. This includes preparing for future needs, such as the potential integration of digital currency solutions.

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