May 2021

Banking update from Martin Kearsley

Hello everyone. The months seem to be speeding by with the next lockdown easing milestone just over the horizon. As you know, it’s been a busy time for Post Office and Banking is no exception. In this month’s blog I’d like to touch on how we are preparing for the return of travel money (now an area I am accountable for), an update on the timing of the closure of the Post Office card account (POca) and our upcoming Save Our Cash campaign, as well as our regular focus on the numbers for April.

You may have seen in David’s Marketing blog that we’re running a marketing campaign around our Banking services, following the return of non-essential retail. Activity is targeted at branches where banks have withdrawn from the high street and locations that have above national average customer sessions, but a low number of cash-in transactions. You can find social media assets to use with your local online communities via #WeArePostOffice

Getting ready for travel again
As we start to see the much longed for relaxation of lockdown restrictions on international travel, it is important that we are ready and able to serve foreign currency and meet customer needs. Initial destinations linked to the countries on the green list are expected to grow as the government completes its ongoing assessments.

We are continuing our focus on registering branches that had their travel money services paused with HMRC last year and have commenced the distribution of additional stock, with further stock ready to be rapidly deployed. Our marketing plans are well underway, with timing now the key consideration to maximise impact and maintain our number one status. Look out for more information in Nick’s Boden’s blog.

Save Our Cash
Last month I shared our involvement in the Community Access to Cash Pilots initiative and the introduction of two new Post Office BankHUBs in Cambuslang and Rochford. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Val and Paul in Cambuslang for the official launch, and Head of Banking - Ross Borkett visited the Rochford BankHUB to meet Richard, and we were incredibly pleased to see the community spirit in full-force, and positive media coverage of both Hubs and the role Post Office plays in providing access to cash for people throughout the UK.

We will also shortly be launching our ‘Save Our Cash’ campaign, which aims to drive legislation that puts an obligation on retail banks to provide access to cash withdrawal services free at the point of service, for both consumers and businesses who depend on cash in their everyday lives.

Millions of people and businesses rely on cash to survive, but access is rapidly declining with bank branches closing across the country. The campaign will help us raise awareness and understanding of the issue amongst key policymakers and the general public, in addition to helping us secure commitment from banks to Banking Framework 3. I’ll share more on this and where you can find some of the creative content next time.

Post Office card account (POca)
As you know, it is important that we continue to support our POca customers after the service comes to an end. This is still officially planned to be November 2021, but I am working with our Department of Work and Pension colleagues to consider the best way to help customers who may not have migrated by that time. If customers move their payments into a bank, building society or credit union account serviced under Post Office’s Banking Framework, they can continue to withdraw money from Post Office using our Everyday Banking services when POca is closed. It is vital that we talk with our POca customers and make sure they realise that they need not change their lifestyle (so they can carry on visiting us in branch even after they change). I will bring more information on the DWP discussions as they develop.

It is important to note that we cannot offer the Post Office savings account as a replacement for POca, as Bank of Ireland does not allow ‘regular’ payments to be made into it – so the payment of benefits into a Post Office savings account would be prevented by them.

You can find out how Northern Ireland Postmaster, Dermot Lynch, moved all of his POca customers to bank accounts under the Banking Framework and the importance of doing so early, here.

In recent months we have shared leaflets to help support conversations with your customers. You can find details of the PL codes or download your own leaflets using the links below:

Cash Tracker
The latest data from our April Cash Tracker shows cash deposits and withdrawals remained steady month-on-month, highlighting that cash use continues to recover as lockdown relaxation gathers pace, and we have again seen our highest levels since last October.

Overall, cash deposits and withdrawals at Post Offices in April amounted to £2.45 billion. This compares with £2.44 billion in March and £2 billion in February. Last April, when the UK was in the first full month of lockdown, the total deposited and withdrawn was £1.29 billion.

We saw a 9% increase in business cash deposits which is a very encouraging sign that re-opening retailers saw cash coming back into their tills in the second part of April.

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

 

Thank you for your continued hard work in supporting customers with their cash needs. If you have any questions or suggestions, please submit a comment below and I will provide an update in my next blog.