FCA Insight: Access to Cash – Mapping the territory

Statistics | 01/10/20

The cash system used to receive very little attention in non-specialist circles. Now, with the reduction in use of cash, discussions around access to cash (A2C) and the possibility of a cashless society are a feature of public debate. This debate typically focuses on the number of bank branch and ATM closures, but this is not the whole story. Getting the full picture of the UK’s A2C will require a more sophisticated approach.

Access to cash across the UK is more than just a numbers game. While analysis based on the number of bank branches and ATMs is significant it cannot be the only measure considered by industry and policy-makers.

The real experience of consumers will depend on other important factors. Community needs for cash may differ according to the different socio-economic make-up of local populations, travel and consumption patterns, and access to alternative payments services.

A new research project by the University of Bristol, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is aiming to map this complex reality across the UK and enlighten future policy options. For the FCA and PSR, this builds on our initial work to create a first interactive access to cash dashboard during the Covid crisis, as described in a recent Insight article.