The banking associations AEB, CECA and UNACC have signed a cooperation agreement with the Spanish Postal Service to facilitate cash withdrawals and improve access to basic financial services in rural areas throughout Spain.

The signatories of the General Action Protocol to promote financial inclusion in rural areas aim to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their place of residence, have access to cash with as little travel as possible.

The agreement, signed this morning by the CEO of the Spanish Postal Service, Juan Manuel Serrano; the Chairman of the AEB, Alejandra Kindelán; the CEO of CECA, José María Méndez; and the President of UNACC, Manuel Ruiz; contemplates the development of new solutions to provide extended coverage of banking services throughout Spain.

For Alejandra Kindelán, "we have been exploring solutions for months, and today we are taking a significant step in the roadmap that the sector is developing to respond to the demands of those who live in small towns across the country, especially those who are furthest away from the technological reality".

During the event, José María Méndez, CEO of CECA, explained: "the agreement that we are signing here today complements the access to cash, reaching those 600,000 people who are left out of the existing access points. Through a universal service, such as the Spanish Postal Service, we are extending the coverage of physical access points to our financial services. It is an innovative action embedded in the global response that the banking sector is giving to the problem of depopulation that affects the provision of all types of services".

The president of UNACC pointed out in his speech that "the commitment of banking associations to financial inclusion has led us to work towards finding different solutions that provide physical coverage to those areas where the network of branches, ATMs, agents and mobile offices cannot reach".

For his part, Juan Manuel Serrano pointed out that with this collaboration "the Spanish Postal Service offers the banking sector not only its extensive network of branches and service points, but also its 6,000 rural postal workers to facilitate access to cash all over Spain, thus guaranteeing a public service to all citizens, and contributing to territorial cohesion and the economic development of people and businesses, especially in rural areas".

Aware of the concern in certain parts of rural Spain regarding the difficulty of withdrawing cash, the three associations offer their entities the possibility of reaching agreements with the Spanish Postal Service to offer access solutions to citizens living in these areas.

The Spanish Postal Service offers the banking sector its extensive distribution network throughout Spain. Thus, customers of all banks operating in Spain will be able to access the services of Correos Cash, which include withdrawing and depositing cash at the logistics company's 4,675 customer service points, including more than 2,300 branches and a further 2,282 rural locations.

In addition, through its 6,000 rural postal workers, who are equipped with electronic devices (PDAs), it is possible to access cash on your doorstep and engage in other transactions that are carried out in post offices in every town in rural Spain, however small they may be, taking advantage of the postal worker's visit, who also offers personal attention without the need for the organisation's customers to have the means or technological knowledge to do so.

This General Protocol for Action in Rural Areas reflects the willingness of the banking associations to contribute to accelerating progress towards an inclusive economy and to leave no group unattended, a commitment that was already set forth in point 5 of the Strategic Protocol to reinforce the social and sustainable commitment of the banking sector, updated in February 2022.

It is also part of the strategy of the Spanish Postal Service to bring services closer to citizens, to offer them new solutions that facilitate their day-to-day lives and to consolidate its position in rural areas as a useful tool to contribute to economic development, the fight against depopulation and the promotion of financial inclusion.