Cheque in the Post Office
Amid record bank branch closures, ICAEW Head of Enterprise Nick Levine points SMEs towards the Post Office, which has teamed up with a number of banks to provide vital business banking services.
An unprecedented number of bank branches are disappearing from the high street. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that around 6,000 high street branches have closed since 2010. This represents a third of all high street bank branches.
This is affecting local businesses in two different ways; a drop in footfall from customers nipping into town to use their local bank, as well as the removal of much needed banking services that still rely on cash.
While the increasing use of chip and pin technology means that fewer consumers are paying with cash, alongside greater propensity for businesses and consumers to use mobile and online services for banking, cash deposit and withdrawal services are still required for many small and local businesses.
A Post Office on every high street
There are 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK, meaning that the chances of there being one on your local high street are high. Additionally, the network is well supported by the government, with £1.34bn being committed to ensure that there are no closures, as well as funds being earmarked to help modernise services.
Business banking at the Post Office
The Post Office network has partnered with over 20 different banks to provide cash withdrawal and deposit services for their business customers, alongside being able to check the balance of accounts.
Partnered banks include long-established financial institutions such as Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds as well as newer challenger banks such as Metro Bank. Mobile-only bank Starling signed up in November.
The full range of services will differ depending on which one of the partnered banks' businesses is a customer. All partnered banks provide the facility to make cash deposits and withdrawals but not all for cheques to be banked.
Nick Levine is ICAEW Head of Enterprise.
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