Swedbank’s new service is an example of a flexible solution that will improve access to cash says Ardo Hansson



Governor of Eesti Pank Ardo Hansson said that the decision by Swedbank to provide a permanent cash withdrawal facility in rural areas will improve access to cash in the smallest places in Estonia.

“Access to cash has been a major sore point for people in rural areas, and the new service that has been set up by Swedbank with local authorities and companies is a welcome relief to that. This multilateral cooperation that has allowed this new service to be set up must be acknowledged, and it is an example of a flexible solution that will improve access to cash”, he said.

He added that the new Swedbank service is an example of the bank adapting to circumstances where clients no longer need to deal with a member of bank staff to use the majority of bank services, but they still need the simplest possible permanent access to cash.

“I am very pleased that solutions like this, which have already been successfully employed in other countries, are now reaching the people of Estonia too,” said Mr Hansson. “I hope that in the future we will see cash services being supplied even more through local businesses, and that these services will reach as many people as possible in rural areas”.

In September last year Mr Hansson answered an interpellation by members of the Riigikogu about the accessibility of banking services in Estonia, in which he raised the point that flexible solutions have been used in other countries to supply cash to rural areas. One example he gave was the cashback system in shops, where people paying for their food in shops by card can add some extra to the total amount paid and then get that in cash from the shop. For this to work, the commercial banks need to allow shopkeepers to offer this service without charging them any percentage of the cash that is withdrawn. The banks would gain by having a more efficient cash network, shopkeepers would gain additional clients in their shops, and those clients would benefit by being able to withdraw cash more conveniently and securely.

Other solutions Mr Hansson named at the time included state service points; state tenders for service providers; requirements, or best practice guidelines that are generally adhered to, for the closure of bank branches, especially in rural areas; joint work by local governments and banks to train people; and joint work by local governments and banks to provide cash. The full text of Ardo Hansson’s answers can be found on the Eesti Pank website.

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