The Post Office is making two of its products available to all UK banks, building societies and credit unions, to make it easier for people who are self-isolating to access cash.
The products are Payout Now – a voucher sent by text, email or post to a customer who can share it with a trusted person to withdraw cash; and Fast Pace – a service allowing a customer to arrange for a trusted person to collect a cheque from them, cash it at Post Office and return with the money.
Self-isolating or vulnerable people affected by the coronavirus pandemic need to contact their financial institution to see if they offer these products.
They can arrange to withdraw cash quickly from their normal accounts through any local Post Office branch, with the help of a friend, family member, carer or local support worker.
The banking provider will inform the Post Office of the customer’s account details and the Post Office will arrange for the cash to be withdrawn at the customer’s local branch.
Payout Now involves sending a barcode voucher to the customer which can be exchanged for cash in any Post Office branch.
The Post Office has previously run a pre-authorised cheque encashment (Pace) service that enabled vulnerable customers to contact their bank and arrange to cash a cheque at a Post Office branch.
Working with the Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and UK Finance, it has launched Fast Pace so customers can now name a trusted person, such as carer or family member, to cash a pre-authorised cheque on their behalf at a Post Office branch.
Martin Kearsley, banking director at the Post Office, said: “Being able to easily access cash is a vital service for older people and those self-isolating.
“Our Payout Now and Fast Pace services mean 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 has a UK network of more than 11,500 branches.
It said branches do have to close at short notice for self-isolation reasons and some have reduced their opening hours since the outbreak of coronavirus.
Mr Kearsley added: “The vast majority of post offices are open, however there are branches that have to close for self-isolation reasons.
“Many Post Offices have floor markers and other information on posters to help customers stay two metres apart.”
He said anyone collecting cash on someone else’s behalf 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.
Post Office customers can see how coronavirus may affect its services on its website and can find the latest information on branch opening hours using its branch finder.