Bank institutions and other lenders have been criticised by many in recent years for gradually reducing cash machines and overall cash accessibility. The reason for this is likely due to the rise of digital banking but the limitations are considered to be particularly harmful for the elderly.
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People in their later years are more likely to utilise cash for their spending and bills.
On top of this, they may also be unwilling to embrace the technological advances that other generations use with ease.
This shortfall appears to be in the financial regulators crosshairs as recent plans from the FCA revealed that physical access to services must not be forgotten.
Yesterday (June 4) the FCA and UK government at large released guidance on how to reintroduce essential services in the coming weeks.
Their guidance mainly concerned operational changes but some of the updates revealed some interesting insight.
The FCA detailed that they also expect firms to prioritise:
- Reinstating access to cash and essential services in local areas which have lost access to bank branches or cash during the crisis.
- Ensuring that there is clear communication to customers through websites and physical signs at branches to signpost to alternatives
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These announcements will be relieving for worried retirees who have been struggling during the lockdown.
Just last month AgeUK, the UKs largest charity dedicated to helping people in their later years, wrote to the FCA calling for the type of assurances they’ve now made.
The letter and corresponding announcement from the charity highlighted just how important the issue is: “The latest figures show that a third (31 percent) of the 70 plus population in England, the equivalent of 2.3 million people, live in a household without access to the internet, while 43 percent of this cohort, the equivalent of 3.2 million people, have never used the internet at home or anywhere else.
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“They are highly unlikely to do so now and they must not be forgotten or left behind.”
The FCA, when making their announcement yesterday, also provided advice for consumers.
They highlighted that alternatives such as online banking should be used as much as possible but they acknowledged that this will be difficult in certain circumstances: “However, we know there will be consumers (including vulnerable consumers) who need to access bank branch services, such as accessing cash or making in-person payments.
“Consumers should contact their banking provider if they need to access services in this way.
“Our expectation is that firms will provide them with further information and help on the options available to them.”
As they highlighted, where the changes are not possible banks will need to point out other options for their customers.
These alternatives can include Post Office services which can offer similar setups to banks.
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