Paying and being paid during coronavirus
16 April 2020
Many of us may find ourselves shopping for friends, family or neighbours who are vulnerable or self-isolating. The question is how can we transfer money safely.
Whether you're self-isolating or volunteering, it's important to stay safe around money. This means never giving anyone your bank or credit card, especially never giving out your pin and where possible avoiding exchanging any account details.
Handing over cash (as well as being limited by its availability during isolation) should be used sparingly; cash has the potential to pass on the virus.
Getting a weekly shop can be a large expense for anyone and having an effective and safe means of transferring money is important. We've explored some of the solutions available.
Some supermarkets have created Volunteer Cards to make it easier to shop on someone else's behalf. They work very much like an online gift card:
- User will buy online
- Send to their volunteer (or print and leave for them in a safe place)
- Repeat or if available top up with extra funds online
The following supermarkets provide clear information on how to use their Volunteer Cards:
The Post Office have recently launched two new schemes called Payout Now and Fast Pace.
Payout Now allows the recipient to arrange for a nominated amount of cash to be picked up from any Post Office branch. It works as follows:
- User contacts their bank, building society or credit union who will be able to issue a barcode voucher
- The one-time use barcode voucher will be issued for a nominated amount and will be sent via SMS text, email or post
- The barcode voucher can be exchanged in a Post Office branch on their behalf by a family member, friend, carer or volunteer for cash
The Post Office works with most banks, building societies and credit unions, however, as this is a new service during coronavirus, we'd advise that users contact their own bank.
Fast Pace allows the recipient to arrange for a nominated cheque amount to be cashed that day from any Post Office branch. It works as follows:
- User contacts their bank and informs them that they want to withdraw cash using the Fast Track Cheque Encashment service
- The bank will then inform the Post Office of the maximum cheque amount they are allowed to cash
- The user completes the cheque as normal, payable to ‘The Post Office’ and prints the name on the back of the cheque of the third party collecting it for them and signs that side too
- The customer can then arrange for any family member, friend, carer or volunteer to collect the cheque from them
- That person then presents the cheque with their own ID such as bank card or driving licence at any Post Office
- They can be reimbursed or take the cash back to the individual (following safe social distancing guidelines) as appropriate
Card for Carers
NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland are introducing a new ‘companion card’ a supplement card to an existing current account that enables vulnerable customers and those in extended isolation to give trusted volunteers a way to pay for their essential goods. The card can be topped up by up to £100 every 5 days and given to a trusted person, volunteer or carer to enable them to make purchases on behalf of the individual.
To enhance security, the carers card will be associated with the customer’s existing bank account but kept separate on the bank’s systems. The card does not share a PIN or long card number with the customer’s existing debit cards and ATM withdrawals are restricted to £50, as well as being subject to Royal Bank’s fraud monitoring systems.
Customers can enquire about a Companion Card by phoning:
- NatWest’s dedicated vulnerable customer lines: 0800 051 4176
- Royal Bank of Scotland’s dedicated vulnerable customer lines: 0800 051 4177
Starling Bank have created a Connected card which enables any trusted person (including a volunteer) to shop on behalf of the account holder. This supplementary card has a predetermined limit (max £200) and can never be used in an ATM or on a gambling site. The Connected card is connected to a Starling account, or more specifically, a Connected Space in the app where the account holder can put money aside. Once the card is ordered and activated, it is simply passed over to any trusted person who can start using it to shop.
Other money transfers
Services such as Paypal or Revolut allow individuals to send money to each other without exchanging bank account details. Bank transfers can also be arranged over the phone or online but these require sharing account details. Remember, it's much easier during this lockdown for someone to pose as someone they're not. A good rule of thumb is to avoid sending money through these less secure routes, especially to anyone that you don't know personally.
If you've heard of other methods for transferring money that are safe and have low barriers to use - please let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org.