Brits are turning to the post office for cash as bank branches continue to close, but they must put up with a streamlined service.
- Brits are using Post Office banking to prevent banks from closing branches
- But post offices are not substitutes for banks and offer a reduced service.
- Some banks do not even allow their customers to bank at the post office.
Brits are turning to the post office for their cash as bank branches remain closed across the country.
Consumers withdrew £836.21 million in cash from post offices in June, up 12.5% in a year, the postal giant said this week.
Britons can carry out basic banking at post offices, under an agreement to offset the impact of the closure of 5,632 bank branches since 2015.
The agreement provides for banks to pay the post office to provide a basic banking service.
Martin Kearsley, Post Office Banking Director, said: “These figures clearly show that Britain is anything but a cashless society and people are reliant on cash as the proven way to run a budget.”
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However, post offices are not banks, so they only allow a maximum of four banking services: money deposit, cash withdrawal, check payment and checking bank balances.
For everything else, customers must visit a bank branch. This includes transferring money, opening linked savings accounts or offers, printing bank statements, and resolving customer service issues that online banking can’t.
Some banks do not even offer the limited four Post Office banking options to their customers.
For example, Nationwide customers cannot deposit cash or pay by check at a Post Office branch, while Metro and M&S Bank customers cannot use Post Office banking at all.
Members of the smaller banks Starling Bank, Adam & Co and Handlesbanken cannot pay by check, while Optimum Bank and Quidity customers can only pay with cash.
Andrew Hagger, founder of personal finance website Moneycomms, said the impact of the trend for more banking at the post office was offset by falling standards when visiting a bank branch.
“The services you get at a bank branch are quite different than they were five or 10 years ago,” Hagger said. ‘If you go to a branch, they often refer you to a machine anyway. Correos is an extension [of using a bank branch] but it’s pretty average. It all depends on what you need: if you just need to get some cash or something similar, the post office is fine.
A Nationwide spokesperson said: ‘Demand from our customers for other services through the Post Office remains low; The Company does not offer commercial banking services where the demand for payment in cash or by check is greater.
‘Unlike many other providers, we continue to invest in branches because we know that customers value face-to-face banking. We recently renewed our branch’s pledge not to leave any town or city in which it is headquartered until at least 2026. As such, most of our customers will pay money or deposit checks through their local branch.’
A Metro Bank spokesman said: ‘It is important to note that many high street banks are turning to the post office to fill the gaps left by branch closures. Metro Bank is committed to its store network and plans to open 11 more stores in the North of England by 2025.’