Amendment 37D | Financial Services Bill – Report (3rd Day) (and remaining stages) | Lords debates

My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak to these amendments, both of which are in my name. In doing so, I declare my financial services interests as set out in the register. I will move also Amendment 40A when we get to that stage.

I thank my noble friend the Minister for the way that he has engaged not just on this amendment but across the whole of the Financial Services Bill. Indeed, I thank the whole ministerial team and all Treasury officials for having numerous meetings with myself and other noble Lords. It has been the model of how to progress legislation through your Lordships’ House.

There is a very simple and, I hope, clear purpose at the heart of the amendments: to enable cashback without a purchase. As with so many other areas of our lives, Covid has had a dramatic impact on cash usage across the United Kingdom, which has been divergent across different nations, regions, socioeconomic groups and people with different protected characteristics. If cash is no longer king, to millions across the UK it is certainly still more than material. It is beholden on all of us to ensure that people have a right to rely on cash and that a network exists across the country where they can reasonably access it. ATM withdrawals have dropped by over 50% since 2019. We have to look to other resources, other things that we have across the country where individuals and small businesses can access cash. That is the purpose of my Amendment 37D.

Currently, it is possible to get cashback with a purchase and, under the Payment Services Regulations, it is not possible to get cashback without a purchase. This amendment would change that, enabling cashback without a purchase and taking it away from what would be considered a payment service under the PSR 2017. The amendment has wider implications, I hope, than just the ability to access cash. It speaks to well-being, social isolation and a real sense of community, and to using the resources that currently exist far more efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all. In 2019 there were 123 million cashback with purchase transactions. Clearly, there is huge potential for cashback without purchase if we pass the amendment this evening.

The amendment is drawn in a deliberately permissive way to enable innovation. For example, if a fintech wanted to offer a service across a number of locations on behalf of those locations, the amendment would enable it to. Similarly, if a rural café wanted to offer cashback without a purchase on its own behalf, the amendment would enable it to.

We have seen such dramatic changes in the use of cash in recent years, heavily accelerated by the Covid crisis, yet cash still matters. If we do not act, the network that supports cash could disappear in a trice, or become inordinately expensive and leave millions of people without access to cash and, through that, to social inclusion, financial inclusion and an ability to play the part that they have a right to in our society.

Amendment 40A merely enables the regulation to come in two months after the passage of the Bill to give a reasonable period post passage.

I hope that Amendment 37D is clear and that it achieves what it seeks to: enabling cashback without a transaction for millions across the country. I believe it is good for individuals, financial inclusion, business and the high street. Cashback without a transaction could enable part of our Covid build back. I beg to move.