Post Office extends vital cash access scheme as COVID-19 worsens

Anyone who can’t leave their home may be able to ask a trusted friend or volunteer to withdraw cash at any Post Office.

The Post Office scheme is being extended and offered to all banks, building societies and credit unions.

If the bank allows it, someone can ask for a one-time barcode sent via text, email or post for a stipulated amount.

A friend or volunteer can then exchange the voucher for the cash requested.

Previously, only individuals such as a carer could collect cash in this way on someone’s behalf.

The scheme is designed to allow elderly or shielded people to maintain access to cash without giving someone else their bank cards.

Payout Now also allows at-risk groups to withdraw money without putting them at unnecessary risk.

They tell their bank exactly how much they want to withdraw from their account, up to a limit set by the bank.

Martin Kearsley, banking director at the Post Office, explained the service is vital in the current epidemic.

He said to the BBC: “Being able to easily access cash is a vital service for older people and those self-isolating.

“[This] means they can access cash quickly and securely to repay someone for a helpful service like shopping, or simply manage their finances, providing peace of mind that cash can be securely sourced with the help of any trusted helper.”

The Post Office is also speeding up a process allowing cheques to be cashed at any branch.

The Fast Pace system lets customers contact their bank, and if eligible can address the cheques to their nearest post office branch.

They can then exchange it for cash provided ID verification is cleared.

The process can take as short as a day at it’s fastest.


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Mr Kearsley added: “Anyone collecting cash on behalf of another person must remember to practise safe distancing and should consider arranging with the recipient how the cash can be safely handed over.

“Perhaps through a person’s letterbox, for example.”

It comes after Barclays faced backlash for initially preventing customers withdrawing money from Post Officies.

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley said: “We have listened very carefully to points that have been made to us by ministers in the government, by MPs, and by interested charities and consumer advocates.

“Ultimately we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network.”

The schemes have been issued with warnings to those using them to be vigilant for fraud.

People should only use friends and volunteers who are completely trusted, they should only withdraw cash they really need, and they should not be put under any pressure to do so.

There have been reports of fraudsters who steal any money they are given, or take money from accounts from people unable to leave their home.

The UK has seen 84,279 cases of coronavirus as of Monday morning.

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