July 16, 2020 / 9:54 AM / 24 days ago

Banks must protect access to cash if COVID prompts branch closures - watchdog

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask crosses a bridge in front of One Canada Square in Canary Wharf, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s banks have been told they must protect customers’ access to cash and provide alternative services if they close further branches, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday.

Lenders should consider sharing services with other providers, providing mobile banking hubs or cash delivery services, or providing a free-to-use ATM where branches close, the watchdog said.

The regulator said it recognised banks may look to shrink branch networks further due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenues, but said banks should first engage with the regulator and consider their options.

A consultation on the guidance will run until July 30.

Reporting by Iain Withers, editing by Sinead Cruise

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