Top Tourist Town Creating Cash Connections
Swanage—a coastal English town with a tourism-driven economy—is seeking innovative ways to support locals and businesses with improved access to cash in the wake of bank and ATM closures.
The Access to Cash Action Group (CAG), consisting of financial institutions and consumer groups, visited Swanage in October following the closure of one of its last remaining banks. CAG deemed it an ideal candidate for a pilot scheme aimed at increasing cash access, broadening banking options for small businesses, and offering training to residents wishing to learn more about online banking.
In Swanage and 11 other towns, consultations will take place with local businesses and community groups that will inform a raft of trial measures. These may include cashback (with or without purchases), apps that can match people wanting cash with nearby businesses that offer cash services, kiosks in local supermarkets that would provide secure access to banking and cash, or the installation of more free-to-use ATMs.
Link—the UK’s largest cash machine network and a member of CAG—says a recent survey shows around one in ten families will use cash as a budgeting aid to get through the cost of living crisis, and many said they planned to use their contactless cards less often.
For many, especially those on fixed or lower incomes, there is no better substitute for budgeting than cash. Not everyone has access to cards or digital payments and they know exactly how much money they have when paying in cash at the local shop.
Swanage Post Office was identified as a key location for hosting a new ATM, and it plans to start opening seven days a week in the run-up to Christmas to ensure locals have full access to their cash to cover business and shopping needs.
While we are not a bank, we can offer most of the services that banks do; business and personal cash deposits, cash withdrawals, cheque deposits, a credit card… The only thing we can’t do is face-to-face meetings.
Chair of Swanage Chamber of Trade and Town Councillor Caroline Finch welcomed CAG’s visit and proposed activities, noting an improvement of cash facilities would be beneficial for tourism, which is the town’s principal source of income.
From a business point of view, Swanage traders need somewhere to be able to bank cash locally rather than go to the time and expense of travelling 20 miles to the nearest bank still open.