Commitments to support the UK’s Wholesale Cash Distribution Network

Today the UK banks that fund or participate in the wholesale cash infrastructure and the UK wholesale cash operators are announcing commitments to ensure an effective, resilient and sustainable cash infrastructure, which in turn will support continued retail access to cash.
Published on 15 December 2021

Today the UK banks that fund or participate in the wholesale cash infrastructure and the UK wholesale cash operators are announcing commitments to ensure an effective, resilient and sustainable cash infrastructure, which in turn will support continued retail access to cash. These organisations will report on their commitments to the Bank of England.   

The wholesale cash market is an integral part of the UK’s overall cash network.  It sits between the issuers of new notes and coins, and those notes and coins being sent to individual bank branches, Post Offices, ATMs and retailers.  With the use of cash for transactions declining, action is needed to ensure that this system remains able to support cash as a viable payment method into the future.

The Wholesale Distribution Steering Group (WDSG) was convened by the Bank of England to help ensure that the Wholesale Cash Distribution model for the UK remains effective, resilient and sustainable in an environment of declining cash volumes.  As a result of the work of the group, the UK banks that fund or participate in the wholesale cash infrastructure and the UK wholesale cash operators have today made the following commitments:

  • To ensure there is adequate resilience of the wholesale cash infrastructure so it can effectively underpin access to cash for wholesale and retail customers across the UK.
  • To work with the Bank of England to ensure processing efficiencies are maximised and costs are managed as usage of cash declines in the UK, so that cash remains an accessible payment method for as long as it is needed.
  • To reduce the environmental impact of wholesale cash processing, in particular by:
    - Aiming for Net Zero for each organisation’s own operations by 2030; and
    - Aiming to use 100% renewable electricity for each organisation’s own wholesale cash operations by early 2024.

To reinforce the approach, the Bank of England has asked industry participants to bring forward by the end of Q1 2022, individual, measureable commitments with a set of key indicators and criteria that they are willing to be held accountable for. To help support this, HM Treasury will provide the Bank of England with the powers that it needs to keep the wholesale infrastructure sustainable and resilient into the future.

By ensuring an effective, resilient and sustainable wholesale cash network, these commitments will underpin the initiatives announced by the Cash Action Group this week, which aim to protect access to cash and deposit services for households and businesses across the UK. 

Speaking in her capacity as Chair of the Wholesale Distribution Steering Group, The Bank of England’s Chief Cashier Sarah John said:

“Cash remains an important way of making payments, and the ability to use cash is critical for many people in the UK. That is why we have to make sure the infrastructure for distributing cash around the country remains viable in the years to come. The commitments made today will ensure that the provision of cash services to households and firms is underpinned by an effective, sustainable and resilient cash distribution network."

Notes to editors

1. The Bank of England Chairs the Wholesale Distribution Steering Group (WDSG). The Group’s members are: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Natwest Group, Post Office, Santander, G4S and Vaultex.

2. See the terms of reference of the WDSG and minutes of its latest meeting.

3. A summary document outlining the Wholesale Distribution Steering Group’s work to identify a new Wholesale Cash Distribution model is available on the WDSG website.

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