February 2021

Banking update from Martin Kearsley

Hello everyone. With January now behind us and we all work our way through winter compounded by lockdown, I want to first thank you for your continuing hard work supporting your customers with their cash needs. In all the debates currently raging about Access to Cash, bank closures, ATMs becoming chargeable, and how support for vulnerable customers is so vital – we remain the foundation stone, and the guiding light for how cash will continue to be supported in every community UK-wide. That’s becoming more evident every day, so do please continue your great work – and I’d like to use this blog to address some of the most common cash and banking queries that I receive and hopefully answer some of your customer questions.

Banking Framework
I am often asked why we’re unable to offer Nationwide cash deposit services through Post Office. Nationwide’s strategic position for some time now has been that they only want to accept cash in through their own network – which they deem to offer a good service to their customers. Equally, they want to encourage e-transfers (online movement of funds) from other banks to them, instead of cash. We have continued to engage Nationwide each year on this issue and will continue to do so.

I’m also frequently asked about Monzo; Monzo are keen to join the Banking Framework, however they are currently overwhelmed by IT programmes and thus their priority is on that in the short term. I will, however, keep you updated on any further developments.

Finally, on the progress of the third Banking Framework agreement, we continue our intense discussions with our banking partners, and I am confident that the positive nature of these will see a smooth transition as the current arrangements conclude at the end of 2022.

Bank Closures
You may be aware that there have already been a number of bank closures announced this year, with several hundred more expected as banks catch up with their delayed plans through Covid-19 and resume a slower programme of continued closures.

So, what does this mean for Post Office? Well, we know that as banks close their branches, our offices welcome many of those ‘displaced’ customers. We also know from surveys by independent bodies such as Which? and Citizens Advice that once a customer uses us, they stay. In one survey 86% of respondents said that Post Office banking services were ‘as good or better’ than the service they received in the bank branch. High praise, and it means your personal, professional and considerate service is warmly welcomed and appreciated. It also means further opportunity for increased footfall through migrating customers to use our services. We are working with all banks to understand their plans, and with their local teams to ensure that customers affected by a closure know about their local Post Office services.

TimeSaver is our new cash deposit product enabling business customers to bypass the queue, similar to the Drop and Go service for mail customers. We are currently onboarding banks using giro credit slips or barcoded giro credit slips to the proposition and are further developing the service to include banks using card-based deposits from the autumn. 

Look out for TimeSaver communications in the coming weeks around Horizon icons and information on what is involved and how to opt in, or opt out, should you no longer wish to participate before we start the allocation of customers to branches.

Post Office Cash Tracker – January
The latest data from our January Cash Tracker shows the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on small businesses and the self-employed, who have traditionally relied on Post Offices to deposit their takings, with business cash deposits down over 40% compared to January 2020. In contrast, personal cash deposits were up 4.6%.

It’s encouraging that personal cash deposits continue to rise and your commitment to keeping our branches open during this lockdown to support your local communities has been crucial to this.

You can find the full Post Office Cash Tracker for January here.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please submit a comment below and I will provide an update in the March blog.