Minutes of the Wholesale Distribution Steering Group – 3 November 2021

Date of meeting: 3 November 2021
Location: This meeting took place via video/audio link

Minutes

Item 1 – Standing agenda items

6 October 2021 minutes

The group agreed the 6 October minutes, and approved their publication.

Sharing information on stakeholder management

The Bank noted that there was a Westminster Hall debate regarding access to cash which took place on 20 October. A transcript of the debate is available online in case of interest.

Item 2 – Business Case Assessment

Level of support

The Bank thanked members for reviewing the industry developed business case for a utility model and for taking it through their individual governance processes for decision. There had been considerable senior engagement on the issue, and all firms had recognised the importance of the issue and finding a sustainable solution which meets the WDSG success criteria of being effective, resilient, sustainable and deliverable.

However, during the recent feedback process it became clear that for some members the potential gains from a utility model were smaller than originally envisaged, and the scope for improvements in efficiency, resilience and sustainability via alternative firm-led rationalisation and consolidation programmes could be larger.

For some the potential gains from the utility were smaller than originally envisaged, and the scope for improvements in efficiency, sustainability and resilience via individual member-led industry consolidation were potentially larger. As a result, for more than one institution the revised business case meant that the success criteria could best be delivered outside of the utility.

The WDSG members acknowledged that the key driver behind the review – the need for action to ensure an effective, sustainable and resilient cash infrastructure in the face of declining cash volumes – still remained. Whilst a utility no longer appeared the best way to achieve this, the success criteria for the future that WDSG had agreed as part of the review process and ensuring industry is put on a sustainable footing remained relevant, and should guide future action.

Accordingly, the Bank proposed that WDSG members should commit to delivering:

  • make industry-wide commitments to help ensure that the wholesale cash infrastructure continues to support the effective retail provision of cash; and
  • support these industry-wide commitments by individual statements of commitment to taking the necessary steps to deliver their part of these industry-wide commitments; and
  • by the end of Q1 2022, agree individual plans with the Bank of England which will set out in detail how they will contribute to these industry-wide commitments.

A publication would be produced by the end of the year to update the public on progress made and set out these outputs in detail. The Bank confirmed that a communications review group had been established to help facilitate this. WDSG members agreed that the minutes of this WDSG and subsequent meetings will be published following the release of the aforementioned publication.

Next steps

Eversheds summarised next steps following the decision point. They will meet with members bilaterally to develop a proposal for the industry wide commitments which will be presented back to WDSG for agreement. Importantly, it was noted that any further work by members should continue to be in compliance with applicable competition laws.

Item 3 – WDSG Communications Review Group Update

The Bank provided an update on the WDSG Communications Review Group, and thanked all institutions for having representation at the first of these meetings, which was held on 27 October.

The Bank explained that the main focus of the group is to review and agree the public update document. This sets out the work which has been undertaken since the public consultation last year, the outcome of the decision, continued commitment from industry to support wholesale cash distribution and next steps.

Item 4 – AOB

None.

Committee attendees

Bank of England: Sarah John (Chair), Nick Butt, Elisabeth Bertalanffy-Fournier, Ronan McClintock, James Best, Molly Galligan

Eversheds: Ros Kellaway, Trystan Richards, Russell Saunders, Mark McLintock

KPMG: Simon Walker, Chris Barnes

Barclays: Tim Allen

HSBC: Sue Yarham

Lloyds Banking Group: Martin Barrett

Natwest: Richard Talbot

Santander UK: Robert White

Post Office: Russell Hancock

HM Treasury: Azin Roussos, Derek Dunne, Abigail White, Kaelan Bhate

Virgin Money: Derek Walker

G4S: Paul Van Der Knapp

TRM: Andrew Mills

Vaultex: Mark Trevor

Apologies

Kevin McMullan (Danske), Phil Vaughan (Vaultex), Anne Jessopp (TRM), Julie Fitzgibbon (BOI), John Garrett (AIB)

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