UK Money Transmitters Association hires Four to tackle banks

The international money transfer industry is campaigning for UK Government action to tackle problems caused by the withdrawal of services by banks.

Cashing out: Banks are distancing themselves from money transfer (Credit: Thinkstock)
Cashing out: Banks are distancing themselves from money transfer (Credit: Thinkstock)

UK Money Transmitters Association (UKMTA), the trade body for the sector, has engaged Four Public Affairs after HSBC and, more recently, Barclays moved to close the accounts of some of its smaller members. It claims Barclays has historically served 70 per cent of members.

UKMTA chairman Dominic Thorncroft said the Barclays move meant a significant portion of his membership that were processing cash payments were no longer served by any of the big four banks.

Thorncroft said: 'Our members are struggling. You need a bank account to do this business. This is affecting providers catering to groups from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Colombia and West Africa.'

The UKMTA is pursuing a two-pronged strategy of engaging with government and relevant institutions to ensure the sector will still be served by banks while appealing to Barclays to give companies time to make alternative banking arrangements.

Four Public Affairs will help member companies speak with one voice and lobby a selection of their local MPs, according to agency director Jim Dickson.

Engagement with MPs has helped the UKMTA secure a meeting this Thursday with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid.

Banks' disengagement from the sector comes against a background of concerns about the risks of involvement with money transfers.

In December, HSBC agreed to pay US regulators $1.9bn (£1.2bn) after a long-running investigation to settle allegations it failed to enforce money laundering controls.

However, an HSBC spokesman said the start of its withdrawal from the sector last autumn was due instead to a global strategic rethink.

A Barclays spokesman said the bank was not comfortable dealing with money transmitters that do not have the controls to spot money laundering, terrorist financing and the payment of proceeds of criminal activity.

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