Rochford (Essex)

Rochford has a population of around 20,000, and bid to become a pilot community primarily to support its ageing population who are heavily reliant on cash, as well as to support small businesses in the local community who can struggle to easily deposit cash locally. Rochford has been concerned about the viability of its market town since the last bank branch closed, and wants to keep its town centre vibrant and its retailers supported. Many of the surrounding areas, including Hockley, also have limited access to cash facilities. Rochford has an established working party looking at wider regeneration of the local towns which this pilot has been working with.  

Services available through the pilots:

FOR INDIVIDUALS

In Rochford we plan to offer:

A new Bank Hub, run by the Post Office, which offers essential banking services for consumers and small businesses – for customers of all major banks. Think of a shared bank branch, covering all of the major banks, in just one building. Provided in a private environment suitable for managing your money. Details of the location and opening hours will be added by the end of March 2021.

Community Bank support.– If you want to see someone from your bank, come to the Bank Hub. Many of the largest banks will be offering face to face services (Covid secure of course) to support their local customers, in a dedicated room. Each bank will be operating their time in their own way, and for some banks you can just walk in, and for others you will need to book an appointment.

Support on how to access digital and online banking. We know it can be confusing, so we are offering help and support. Details of how you can access this will follow shortly.

ATM. There will be two, not just one free to use ATMs in Rochford. One is on West Street, outside the Sainsburys, and the second will be in the new Bank Hub. The Bank Hub will be open 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Cashback from local retailers – so that when you buy things from local stores you can also ask for cashback of any amount – whether a round figure (e.g. £10) or just what you need. Participating retailers’s details will be added by the end of March 2021 – we are keen to sign up as many local retailers as possible..

Guide to what your bank can offer you. The banks offer a wide range of services that most people don’t know about. In fact, as we’ve set up these pilots, we had requests for a lot of services – and found that many are already offered. We’ve written a short guide to these services, and how they can help you.

Getting debt advice, and support to manage your money. The local community are working with Citizens Advice to support customers who need help with both budgeting and  to offer debt advice. The Bank Hub will also support with helping people to do their banking in other ways including digital.

Make your coins easier to store and spend. We are trialing a new solution, run by a British company called Shrap that enables you to receive your change on a card or mobile app when paying with cash. The service is totally free, and works like a ‘virtual coin jar’ where change can be stored and spent anonymously with businesses and friends. To sign up simply collect a (free) card from a participating business, or click here to learn more: https://www.shrap.co.uk/everyone

FOR BUSINESSES

In Rochford we plan to offer:

Automated deposits – no need to queue. A new service for small businesses. In your Bank Hub is an automated deposit machine – like an ATM in reverse. Just use your card to sign in, as for an ATM, and then deposit your cash in private, without queuing. All major banks are participating in their service. See the Bank Hub details above for the opening hours of this service.

Cashback for your customers – at no cost to you

We know that there are limited ATM facilities in Rochford, and that many consumers would welcome the chance to get more cash locally. We also suspect that if people get cash locally, they will spend it locally. We are therefore offering local retailers, cafes and restaurants the option to give out cashback to consumers, with costs covered by the pilot. If you are interested in hearing more, contact george_ioannou@btinternet.com

Coin Recycling so that you can handle less small change.

We have heard from small businesses that a challenge with accepting cash is managing the small change. We are piloting a simple to use solution that allows retailers to give customers their change on a card or mobile app, instead of in coins. Not only does this save the hassle of managing small coins, but it allows customers to easily save and spend their change, recirculating value in the local economy that is often lost.

This service will be provided by Shrap, an independent, FCA-authorised start-up based in Poole, UK. Here’s how it works:

  • Businesses maintain a ‘float’ on Shrap instead of coins in a cash drawer.
  • When a customer pays with cash, the business issues their change anonymously – and for free – through the mobile app or onto a physical ‘Change Card’.
  • Customers can store their change in their ‘virtual coin jar’ and make fee-free, anonymous payments to people and businesses conveniently from the app or Change Card, ensuring that it is inclusive of all in society.

If you are a business in Rochford who would like more information or to participate, please visit https://www.shrap.co.uk/business or email support@shrap.co.uk.