Visa has launched an industry-wide ‘access to cash’ scheme with its partner banks to encourage retailers to offer cashback.

The new initiative specifically targets areas in the UK where consumers currently struggle to access cash, such as remote and rural locations. Additionally, it will incentivise shops and businesses to offer cashback to consumers using their Visa debit cards.

Jeni Mundy, Visa Managing Director, UK & Ireland, said: “The popularity of digital payments continues to surge across the UK, however we know that cash still plays a vital part in the lives of many.

“This is why we want to help increase the number of options that people have to gain access to cash, helping to extend financial inclusion by enabling customers to choose how they pay – be that by cash, cards, mobile devices or other means. We also hope our scheme will encourage people in the target areas to visit their local shops at a challenging time for retailers.”

The scheme aims to increase the number of locations where cashback is offered. Cashback has been available in the UK since 1990, however, Visa has seen transaction volume declining in recent years.

Access to cash falls

Visa’s announcement comes the number of ATMs in rural areas have diminished at a rapid rate. Research from UK cashpoint network Link found that residents in one in eight rural communities have lost their last free-to-use ATM and face travelling one kilometre to their next one.

In addition, Visa’s new scheme follows its recent partnership with Lloyds which aimed to increase the number of locations where cardholders were able to withdraw cash.

Vim Maru, Group Director, Retail Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Lloyds Banking Group maintains the biggest branch network of any bank in the UK and is committed to ensuring access to cash, including a free-to-use ATM network alongside other ways of accessing cash locally.

“Through the cashback pilot we’ve been running in partnership with Visa since early last year, we’ve improved the availability of cash in local communities, particularly in areas under-served by free-to-use ATMs and where consumers’ access to cash may be restricted.

“We’re delighted that Visa is now encouraging all of its bank partners to get behind the scheme and create a cashback system that both rewards retailers and protects access to cash.”

In the future, Visa hopes to be able to make cashback without purchase available in the future.