ACCESS to cash and rural banking services were high on the agenda as the chair of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) visited Ceredigion.

Charles Randell met with local MP Ben Lake, businesses and individuals to discuss the issues and what the PSR – a subsidiary of the Financial Conduct Authority with regulatory powers – is doing to make sure people have the choice and ability to access cash.

A PSR spokesman said: “While UK consumers and society are increasingly using a wide range of ways to pay, being able to pay with cash remains important.

Use of cards and other digital methods is increasing, which means that cards are now the most frequently used payment method in the UK. However, the PSR’s research shows that over 80 per cent of us pay for something using cash each week and there is a significant minority who, for a range of reasons, remain reliant on paying in cash.

“With the ongoing shift to digital payments, there have been concerns that free to use ATMs are closing, particularly in rural communities. We think it’s important that everyone has a good choice of how to make payments, in a way that works for them and want to ensure that consumers can still choose to use cash.

“We are carrying out a programme of work to make sure people can make payments in the way they want and has already undertaken a significant piece of work with LINK – the UK’s biggest ATM network – to make sure it delivers on its commitment to maintain the existing geographic spread of free-to-use ATMs for cash access.”

Ceredigion MP Mr Lake said: “I’m pleased that the PSR has taken the time to come and see, first-hand, the experiences of people and businesses in Ceredigion.

“I understand that the regulator is working to ensure there is continued cash access for everyone. I’m grateful to have had open discussions with Charles Randell about this very important matter.

“Bank branch closures in rural areas have meant that people are increasingly having to travel miles to their nearest bank branch, and for many businesses and customers the distance is proving to be a considerable barrier to accessing financial services.

“I tabled a Bill in Parliament that would seek to ensure that people and businesses in rural areas can continue to access basic banking services wherever they are, and so I was very glad to welcome the PSR panel to Ceredigion.”

Mr Randell added: “Many consumers are using less cash to pay for things, but that’s not for everyone. People still need a choice of how they pay.

“Spending time with local communities and hearing their experiences helps us to play our part in maintaining that choice.”