Firms mulling closing ATMs or bank branches must treat customers fairly – FCA

Firms considering closing bank branches or ATMs should carefully consider the impact on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, including any alternative arrangements that may be available, the City regulator has said.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published draft guidance to ensure customers are treated fairly.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) set out its expectations for banks, building societies and credit unions when they are considering closing branches or ATMs, or converting a free-to-use ATM to fee charging.

The FCA said that treating customers fairly should include considering what alternatives can be provided to customers.

This could include sharing services with other providers or supporting customers to use digital services.

The regulator also expects firms to communicate their plans clearly to customers.

Sheldon Mills, interim executive director of strategy and competition said: “Access to cash is a priority for the FCA.

“While in the recent climate we have seen some consumers move to digital payments, we have also seen the importance of the continued availability of cash to many consumers, including those most vulnerable.

“We welcome the Government’s plans to legislate as a longer-term solution, and the work the industry is doing already to maintain cash.”

The consultation closes on July 30.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which? said: “It is right that the FCA has stepped in to address the issue, and it must be clear that the industry cannot respond to the changes in how people bank by abandoning those who rely on cash or a face-to-face service.

“The Government also now needs to play its part and urgently introduce its legislation to protect access to cash.”

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