Barclays Faces Criticism

09 Oct 2019

Barclays Faces Criticism for Post Office Banking Opt Out

Barclays is being urged to “think again” about their decision to opt out of an agreement that allows customers to withdraw cash at Post Offices.

The Post Office and 28 banks and building societies have made an agreement, allowing Post Office staff to accept deposits and dispense cash for customers. The agreement is to be in place for 3 years and will see Post Office workers receive more pay for their additional responsibilities.

However, in a move that has “concerned” the Payment Systems Regulator, Barclays has chosen to opt out of part of this agreement. This means that, from January 2020, Barclays customers will not be able to withdraw cash with a debit card at Post Office branches.

Consumer group Which?, who have been campaigning in favour of legislation to protect consumers’ rights to use cash, called this a “shocking decision”. Their research also shows that, since 2015, Barclays have closed a third of their branch network, which is not unexpected, given that many customers are choosing to do their banking online.

Such closures further support the argument of those opposing Barclays’ Post Office decision. They believe that customers’ options for accessing cash are becoming more limited.

A recent Access to Cash Review revealed that 1.2 million cash withdrawals a month are made by Barclays customers. It is feared that the decision will have a significant impact on customers who live in rural areas, other communities with limited access to high street banks or free ATMs and the elderly or vulnerable.

Barclays have commented, assuring customers they can still deposit cash at the Post Office and that alternative arrangements will be made available for withdrawals. These are reported to include cashback schemes through local businesses and the ability to arrange for cash withdrawal using cheques.

They went on to explain that 99% of their customers who use a Post Office for banking are based in areas where other free cash withdrawal facilities (e.g. ATMs or branches) are available.  In addition to this, they have made a promise to keep all rural and ‘last-in-town’ locations open for at least the next 2 years.

Despite Barclays’ reassurances, The Payment Systems Regulator maintains that the decision to opt out of this part of the agreement is a cause for concern. They have said it “reduces the number of places their customers can go to get cash”, with a promise to monitor Barclays going forward.

By Melissa Jones