FCA is using its powers under FSMA 2023 to consult on new rules to require designated banks and building societies to assess gaps in access to cash and act to fill them. FCA says that, currently, over 95% of people in the UK are within a mile of a free ATM or cash withdrawal point and nearly all are within 3 miles. The proposals will not prevent banks from closing branches, except where that branch is a key local source of cash – and will work alongside FCA’s guidance on branch closures.
The consultation covers requirements FCA will place on the designated firms to:
- do cash access assessments when changes are being made to cash access services;
- respond to requests from communities to consider gaps in cash access;
- ensure consumers and the community are aware of changes;
- deliver reasonable additional services where there are gaps; and
- ensure cash facilities don’t close without additional necessary services being available.
FCA proposes changes to the Glossary, Fees and SUP modules of the Handbook and to add a new Specialist Module, the Access to Cash Sourcebook. FCA has not yet designated the firms who will be subject to the requirements.
FCA also notes that this consultation is not about forcing retailers to accept cash as a payment method as this is outside its control.
Consultation closes on 8 February and FCA expects to finalise the rules by Q3 2024.