/ Money

Freedom to Pay: what’s next?

Our Cash Summit brought together everyone who’s anyone in banking and finance. Now, we’re discussing what’s next for our Freedom to Pay campaign.

In May, we welcomed the government’s unprecedented commitment to ensuring cash continues to be available to those who need it. Our supporters helped make this an issue that no-one could ignore.

The announcement showed that the government has heard us, and will now lead a new group to reduce the barriers people face when accessing cash.

Here are three of the biggest events and meetings we had last week to support our campaign:

1. Our Cash Summit

We hosted a Cash Summit with over 140 attendees talking about what’s needed to ensure people have the freedom to pay in whatever way suits their needs.

This included conversations about how to protect cash while it’s still needed, and actions businesses and the government can take to support people as they transition towards digital payments.

The event included speeches from Gwyneth Nurse the Director of Financial Services at the Treasury, Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the powerful Access to Cash review, the Managing Director of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) Chris Hemsley and our CEO Anabel Hoult.

Joel Hills from ITV news hosted a panel discussion featuring Jenni Allen the Content Director at Which?, Natalie Ceeney, Martin McTague the Policy and Advocacy Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, John Hutton the Director of Payments at Nationwide and Mark Barnett the UK President of Mastercard.

Check out our Twitter hashtag to see more about the points that were discussed.

We know that some people choose not to use cash, but we believe that it remains a vital back up for everyone when systems fail. On the day of the summit we launched new research showing that 7 million people experienced an outage in the last year which prevented them using their debit or credit card.

We also discovered that one in ten people affected by an outage suffered a financial penalty, such as a late payment fee. The same proportion said their credit score was damaged because they failed to pay a bill on time. This received coverage across national and local media.

2. The Welsh Assembly

As Thomas Docherty explained last week, we gave evidence to the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills committee for their inquiry into Access to Banking Services in Wales.

We highlighted the impact of bank closures across the nation, and that many Welsh people struggle to access online banking services due to poor connectivity.

We called on the Welsh Government to support our calls on the UK government to introduce a statutory duty and to do more to improve internet and phone signal across Wales.

3. The Scottish Affairs Committee

The Scottish Affairs Committee in Westminster questioned the Minister John Glen MP, and representatives from the Post Office, as part of their Access to Financial Services inquiry.

The inquiry has been running for three months and we gave our evidence in March. We know that some people in Scotland have fewer payment options due to poor connectivity, the country losing over a third of its bank branches in eight years and regular cashpoint closures.

The Committee has strongly supported our campaign calls, and today asked the Minister to respond. This activity in the Westminster Parliament continues to apply pressure to the UK government to take urgent action. You can watch the session here.

What’s next?

Our campaign is far from over. We’re continuing to apply pressure to the government and the regulators to ensure they deliver on their promise, and the last week shows just how much we’ve got going on to help make this happen.

We’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s supported us so far, and for your contributions to previous topics here on Which? Conversation.

Did you welcome the government’s commitment to protecting access to cash? Do you feel supported by your bank as digital payments become more and more common?

Linda says:
8 September 2019

I am disabled, retired and live alone. I am frequently housebound for days at a time. When I do manage to get out my bank now closed and removed its ATM – my nearest bank is 8 miles away. Of the two banks remaining in town there are long queues waiting inside and out to get access to cash. I am unable stand waiting in a queue.

I manage to get cash from an ATM outside Waitrose which has facility of disabled parking within a few feet of the machine. I withdraw a very large amount. Always dispenses £20 notes. I used to take cash straight into my bank to have it changed into £10 & £5 notes as I pay a young teenage neighbour help me get my recycling out each week and my landfill bin. I also accept help when neighbour or friends offer to fetch me some bread from bakers, greengroceries & meats from butcher. Can only pay them if I’ve cash available. Am lucky that sometimes when a young active friend (who is fit and able enough to queue at a bank counter) bring me a supply of £10 & £5 notes in exchange for my wad of £20 notes.

I have to rely heavily online grocery shop but hard to always find smaller than family sized portions.

Janet Avarne says:
Today 06:37

If the people who help you could give you their bank account details then, at those times when you had no cash available, you could pay them by direct transfer using online banking.

When Cash is NO MORE, it will be too late (to act……) Take cash away from individuals / society and CONTROL of your entire life will be TAKEN away from YOU!!! Use it (cash!) or OR loos it…..

Quite right W.F but the government will keep on pushing it as it benefits banks & the City.
It will be used by a government to control the population if social disagreement rises among the UK public .

Vivienne vine says:
10 September 2019

The Bible tells us that the time is coming when certain people wont be allowed to buy or sell. What we are seeing is just the beginning of the fulfilment of this prophecy in Revelation chapter 13. Read it for yourself. Interesting!

Thanks Vivienne. I read it via this website:-http://www.usccb.org/bible/revelation/13

During my recent holiday in Fairbourne and Barmouth, I noticed that all the bank branches in Barmouth have now closed, but cash can be withdrawn from ATM’s and post offices.

Meanwhile, our cottage had fibre broadband (36Mbps down + 9Mbps up) and one local hotel had no less than 10 EV charging points.

The press report ”Under the initiative, local shops and businesses will from April 2020 earn a fee of 12 pence every time they dispense cash to a shopper paying with a Mastercard debit card.

I, among others including the Access to Cash review March 2019, have proposed for some time that we could greatly expand the availability of cash by incentivising retailer, who take in cash, to also dispense it. I hope you don’t have to spend money in the shop to be able to withdraw cash. If so, I hope Which? will encourage this sort of initiative.

Many retailers already provide ATMs to dispense cash. With supermarkets increasingly using self-service checkouts and scan-as-you-shop technology, we are progressively moving away from using staffed tills. I do not know how much cash is collected by self-service tills now that many are using cards, but I’ve suggested that they could be used to dispense cash as well as to collect it.

I support retention of cash and convenient access but after many of us have been using ATMs for decades I doubt that it is realistic to expect an increase in manual dispensing of cash.

Allison says:
12 September 2019

Happy to support this initiative. I still prefer to have cash as I like to stick to a budget for weekly shop. I use cards for other items.
All our banks are closed apart from a Bank of Scotland which is likely to close soon, nearest branches for most people are a 70 mile round trip so dependant on supermarkets for atms.

Alan Sampson says:
13 September 2019

Today I received an e-mail proporting to be from The Halifax Bank.
It said my bank account had been locked due to a security issue.
The e-mail told me to contact them via my mobile with my details, and my account unlocked in a few seconds. The contact details were via a link on the e-mail.
Needless to say I rang The Halifax and after some security checks they confirmed that there was not any problems with my account.
I them deleted e-mail, and I thought I would share my experience with Which.
Be warned!!

Robert Lamb says:
17 September 2019

I am a victim of scam for £85k I’m a group of 40+ who have lost £2 million. Itv’s Tonight programme have recently aired 2 shows on scams to which I have we tried to contribute but been ignored. Instead they sensationalise much smaller cases and even claim some success giving a false impression that they are getting on top it. Our case needs to be heard and itv need to be told to make a better job of it

Very sorry to hear this Robert , for a long time now I have been posting on the many “India Scams ” and how UK government authorities differ in both attitude and action compared to the USA who really do try and help their own citizens –most times to silence, even when quoting cases .

Maybe belief will set in if I post the US Department of Justice,s OWN website and just one case out of many to show the USA fights for and protects its citizens –read and weep at the difference –

Robert Lamb says:
18 September 2019

Thanks Duncan, I’ve copied our exchange to our group. We are very aware of UK government inaction and hopefully pressure will tell. Can’t see much improvement if Borris’s lot get in again though

Robert, are you willing to give some information on the scam?

Michael Powell says:
18 September 2019

We are currently in dispute with Vodafone over a payment to Footbox tv. This ocurred when my wife inadvertently touched the wrong part of an advert,while trying to close down Radio 4 on her phone. We contacted Vodafone on the 8th September via their text messaging service, which itself is cumbersome to use. They said they would block this service. Despite this they notified us on 18th September a£4 charge would appear on our forthcoming bill as a charity. We contacted them again on 18th September. Vodafone said they had put a block on it but a payment of £4 had gone out immediately and as this was a third party initiated transaction, they could not obtain a refund.
This is outrageous, with a proliferation of pop up adverts it is increasingly easy to be caught out. Any third party initiated transactions should require verification by the Vodafone account holder.
Dr Michael Powell

HS says:
Today 12:10

These are very difficult times to be living in, as we, the public are in the hands of many businessmen and women representing big companies that may sell us useful products but as soon as we get them, it all suddenly changes against us, because we had not read the contract/plan small writing and the only way to resolve the issue is seeking Solicitor’s advice which is financially costly and requires time that we may not have.
I bought a £320 SAMSUNG phone in Amazon, 6 years ago, which battery was faulty and only lasted half an hr when charged. I also bought a plan with VODAPHONE to use the phone and WIFY, however, because the phone was faulty, I did not use the plan at all.
When I tried to return the phone Amazon, they told me that the seller was a private Co. so I had to deal directly with them, only to find out that they could hardly speak English. It was so frustrating that after weeks trying to get someone to speak about it, I decided to let it go.
Then, I went to VODAPHONE to cancel the plan but couldn’t because it was a yearly plan! This has been a 6 yrs battle with them. Two years ago, on 24th Dec. Vodaphone called to say that the bay-lifters were coming to my house in the afternoon to collect my valuable possessions, I was so busy with the Christmas preparations that I could not think what to do and reluctantly, I decided to pay a quote of the accumulated debt, because I was terrified with the prospects of having this huge and embarrassing situation going on in front of family and friends present. Great mistake!! I am now unable to apply for credit or shop card as I get automatically rejected. This is the least of my worries, but it shows that the people that work in this business are employed to sell at all costs, therefore many dubious methods are used because the employee needs to keep a job.
Needless to say that the customer is the one that suffer the consequences.
I personally would never do a job that requires me to lie, under any circumstances but I do realise that some people do it out of need. This situation is definitely changing the fabric of our society.

If ,as you say Vodaphone threatened to send Bailiffs to you HS I am glad I am with BT .
BT use Debt collection agencies who do NOT have the same powers in the UK and cannot take control of your goods but can only ASK for payment .
Have you contacted the Ombudsman -services ?-
More help HS-

Jeannie says:
Today 18:38

I hear so much about scams. It is up to the banks and other financial services that they ensure that they have systems in place to stop scams as far as possible. No-one should lose their finances due to financial institutions not doing more to protect their customers.

Randall Green says:
Today 18:48

It is just a ploy by the banks to get EVERYBODY using cards to buy. This is also a ploy by the banks to make MORE money, especially from those that haven’t go a great deal to spend. When everyone gets a contactless card, the the banks will also disappear, which will also put the bank staff out of a job. We used to have a bank just up the street from where I live. But that went a few years ago. All that is left is a cash machine. I am 71 years old, and I cannot go dashing about trying to get some money, it is like the pension service, they want EVERYONE of us to get their pension paid into a bank, instead of the post office. I wonder sometimes who is getting a back-hander to let the penson service keep sending letters out to people on benefits, to get their money paid into a bank? All you get told is “THERE IS CASH POINT YOU CAN GET IT FROM”, This is a right load of horse-S**T. The sooner someone gets into power that will stop all this rigmarole about OUR money the better. The cash points are next. Once everyone gets a contactless payment, some one will have to foot the bill, I WONDER WHO THAT WILL BE?????????????????????????????

William John Little. says:
Today 19:17

This has been a long term strategy of the Banks and Government, to get rid of cash. It then becomes so easy to monitor and controls YOU in your spending, it allows the Banks to supply the information they gain by tracking EVERY purchase you make, to the Government, the police, HMRC, Antiterrorist monitors in case you buy the wrong book. You will cease to have any privacy because they will know everything they need to know about you. Who will it not affect the rich and the privileged.

Correct William , I have been saying this for a long time , its not just the loss of privacy its all about control , if the public riot/ public unrest/ etc etc then no virtual money payed out —that usually works .

Bill says:
Today 19:26

I remember when the banks first introduced cash machines. This was in order to cut costs by reducing staff numbers at branches, not necessarily as a benefit to customers.
It is therefore quite immoral for the “banking industry” to now ask customers to pay fees for accessing cash from their own accounts.
Banks should be obliged by law to provide and service a minimal network of cash machines nationwide. No questions asked! It’s not all about making profit.
We are fed up being ripped off by the banks!

I remember the first cash machines were a great innovation, because to get cash, one no longer had to go into a bank (during quite short opening hours) and then queue to cash a cheque.

ian wallbanks says:
Today 22:00

This is just a ploy by the banks to force people to use plastic so they can charge every time you make a purchase this cannot happen with notes they are trying to do away with notes
only have value to a bank when they go back to the bank but they can and will charge a minute amount on every purchase every one ever makes with a credit card this is the holy Grail for them greedy (ankers) please pay with notes when ever possible do not let them win this one or we are truly lost please please shop with real money . do not give any more of your power to these faceless people real money is your power do not loose

Josephine Denning says:
Today 23:21

If by using ATMs to take cash from your own bank account you are being charged a fee then, as interest rates are peanuts, it is becoming more and more obvious that there is no point in putting your money in the bank in the first place. If the money is paid into your back account by a third party can you not visit your bank and draw out all the money you need for the month. Assuming you are paid monthly that is. If paid weekly then even better. The banks would soon complain as drawing out your own money in a lump sum is not in your banks interest. Maybe worth thinking about heh.