Your Friday fix for global fintech and payments news
Following on from last weeks’ news regarding the Access to Cash initiative by the Financial Conduct Authority, this week’s news brings plans for smaller UK communities to prepare ‘banking hubs’, enabling the vulnerable still have access to physical cash. Also reported this week, UK Finance states that card activity during June dropped considerably, and the EU could soon be in talks with Apple about opening up the iPhone NFC functionality.
Our weekly round-up brings you a dose of some of the biggest news announcements from the past seven days so you can keep an eye on all that’s shaping our world this week.
- UK communities prepare for cash access pilots
- Card activity fell in June, despite shops re-opening, UK Finance says
- EU could force Apple to open up iPhone NFC functionality
After the publication of the Access to Cash Review, pilots are to be set up providing nine small communities around the UK with ‘banking hubs’, providing access to financial services that would normally be available at a Post Office. Services include access to cash withdrawals and transactions, and advice and support on debt and other financial issues.
The pilots will run over the next few months and will be held in refurbished existing Post Offices and churches, while pop-up versions offering the same services will also be introduced. The Access to Cash Review is also hoping to bring in purchase-free cash back in local stores to further boost the availability of cash to those who need it.
The Chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilot, Natalie Ceeney said: "These pilots are designed to find sustainable ways to keep cash viable locally, which, if successful, can then be rolled out more widely. The government has already committed to legislate to protect cash, and the financial services regulators are working closely with banks to identify practical next steps. Our aim is to use the pilots to critically inform this work."
The latest research by UK Finance shows that UK credit and debit card usage fell during June, despite local shops reopening after lockdown.
June 2020 saw 933 million transactions made, which was a 2.7% decline on May 2020 and a 43.1% decline on June 2019. The same time period saw a continued increase in online card spending, with 22% of all transactions being online, accounting for 42% of the transaction value for the month.
Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance, UK Finance, said: “While card activity is still significantly below pre-lockdown levels, there has been steady growth in the value of purchases using payment cards in recent months.
“Lower spending and maintained repayment levels suggest that customers may have used the opportunity to pay down their credit card bills and reduce any debts – as the annual growth in outstanding balances contracted by 13.4 per cent in the year to June 2020.”
Despite Apple having recently won a long-running battle with Australian banks over access to its NFC functionality, The European Union is now in debate as to whether to force Apple to provide the iOS service for rival payment providers.
Currently, Apple Pay is the only mobile payment service to have the NFC ‘tap and go’ technology available for consumers to use for payments in stores. This has been blasted by banks around the globe for impeding the use of the same technologies for competitive payment providers.
According to documents seen by Bloomberg, the Commission has said: "In parallel with its ongoing and future competition enforcement, the Commission will examine whether it is appropriate to propose legislation aimed at securing a right of access under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions, to technical infrastructures considered necessary to support the provision of payment services."