Visa is launching an industry-wide ‘access to cash’ scheme with its partner banks to incentivise retailers to offer cashback in areas of the UK where consumers currently struggle to access cash.
The new initiative will incentivise shops and businesses to offer cashback to consumers using their Visa debit cards.
The scheme aims to increase the number of locations where cashback is offered. While cashback has been available in the UK since 1990, Visa has seen the volume of transactions declining across the country in recent years.
To ensure that the most vulnerable areas see the greatest benefit, the new cashback incentive will target areas of the UK where access to cash has been identified as being more difficult, such as the most remote and rural locations.
In addition, the initiative will also encourage individuals to visit and shop in their local communities, driving footfall and revenue for independent retailers.
Jeni Mundy, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Visa, explains: “The popularity of digital payments continues to surge across the UK, however we know that cash still plays a vital part in the lives of many. This is why we want to help increase the number of options that people have to gain access to cash, helping to extend financial inclusion by enabling customers to choose how they pay – be that by cash, cards, mobile devices or other means. We also hope our scheme will encourage people in the target areas to visit their local shops at a challenging time for retailers.”
The industry-wide scheme follows an innovative pilot between Visa and Lloyds Banking Group which aimed to increase the number of locations where cardholders were able to withdraw cash.
Vim Maru, Group Director, Retail Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, adds: “Lloyds Banking Group maintains the biggest branch network of any bank in the UK and is committed to ensuring access to cash, including a free-to-use ATM network alongside other ways of accessing cash locally. Through the cashback pilot we’ve been running in partnership with Visa since early last year, we’ve improved the availability of cash in local communities, particularly in areas under-served by free-to-use ATMs and where consumers’ access to cash may be restricted. We’re delighted that Visa is now encouraging all of its bank partners to get behind the scheme and create a cashback system that both rewards retailers and protects access to cash.”
As access to coins and notes reduces, Visa is actively working with its partners to explore innovative solutions to ensure that consumers and merchants are able to pay and be paid in whichever way they choose. For example, Visa hopes to be able to make cashback without purchase available in the future.
Commenting on the plan, Andrew Cregan, Payments Policy Adviser at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says: “Cash is a key part of the payment mix, accounting for almost 40% of retail transactions. With thousands of recent banks and ATM closures across the UK, the BRC has been calling for measures to protect access to cash. Rewarding retailers that offer cashback services to their customers is a positive move but needs to be backed up by clear actions as previously announced by Mastercard in 2019.”
He concludes: “The availability of cash is particularly important to many vulnerable people, especially for budgeting and control purposes. Regulators could further help safeguard consumers’ access to cash by addressing the fees and charges levied on retailers that provide cashback services to their customers.”