FCA Insight: Cash and Covid – identifying gaps in provision during Covid-19

Industry News | 29/09/20

Access to cash is a pressing issue highlighted in the FCA’s recent Sector Views report, and the Covid lockdown brought added urgency to research. As the UK locked down, the FCA and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) have worked closely together to collect and collate real-time data on the cash access points within the UK.

The closedown of economic activity during the Covid-19 crisis was perhaps the biggest in recent history. For most people the unprecedented reduction in services at ATMs and bank branches had little or no effect on their access to cash, but a small number of rural areas were severely affected.
During the lockdown (spanning end of March – beginning of June 2020) up to 15.7% of all UK physical and mobile branches and 11.7% of ATM sites had closed. Despite this the share of the UK population who lost access to a source of cash within 3 miles in the spring 2020 never exceeded 0.1%.

But the real-time study and mapping revealed notable differences between the nations and regions of the UK, and found that those areas where access to cash was already stretched were more likely to feel the effects of the loss of access.