Lloyds, NatWest and Barclays are teaming up to pilot the UK’s first shared business banking hubs, helping support businesses hit by branch closures to make local cash and cheque deposits.
The initial hub in Birmingham is the first of six scheduled to open in UK towns in the coming weeks as part of a joint initiative to enable small businesses and sole traders to pay in large volume of coins, notes and cheques in their local area.
They will be available on a trial basis to pre-selected business clients in each local area and will offer extended opening times (8am to 8pm) seven days a week, providing business and corporate customers more flexibility to manage their day-to-day finances.
The hubs will be branded Business Banking Hub and they have been designed to enable business customers from NatWest, Lloyds Bank and Barclays to conduct transactions through a shared facility and help them continue with cash-based business payments in an increasingly cashless economy.
The move from the trio of High Street banks comes after the Access to Cash Review published a report calling on the government, regulators and banks to act urgently to protect the eight million UK adults - or 17 per cent of the population - who would struggle to pay for goods and services in a cashless society.
Cash is currently used for just three in every ten transactions, down from six in 10 a decade ago, and is forecast a fall to as low as one in 10 transactions within the next 15 years. This shift away from cash towards digital payments is placing significant strain on the UK’s cash infrastructure, which currently costs around £5 billion a year to run, the report found.
Commenting on the business hub pilot, Alison Rose, deputy chief executive of NatWest, said: “It is now more important than ever that we continue to offer innovative services, and we are creating an infrastructure that allows small business owners and entrepreneurs to do what they do best – run their business.”
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