NatWest has today announced a new ‘companion card’ for vulnerable customers to give to trusted volunteers to pay for essential goods.
Designed to help those in extended isolation as well as vulnerable customers, the companion card will act as a supplement to those customers’ existing current accounts.
The card can be topped up by up to £100 and given to a trusted person or carer for purchases on behalf of the individual.
To enhance security, while 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 NatWest’s fraud monitoring systems.
The move is the latest in a series NatWest has introduced in response to the coronavirus crisis to protect vulnerable customers and enhance their ability to pay for essentials while protecting themselves.
The bank said it was the first in the UK to offer vulnerable customers and those in extended isolation a fee-free cash delivery service to their door, with almost £250,000 delivered to around 750 customers to date since March 25.
Customers can also request a ‘Get Cash’ code that enables a trusted third-party to make ATM withdrawals up to £100 on someone’s behalf from any NatWest, Royal Bank or Ulster Bank NI ATM.
Les Matheson, chief executive, personal banking at NatWest, said: “Tackling issues around access to finance can be difficult for some. But we are committed to finding innovative solutions that keep our customers safe and able to pay for the things they need, when they need them – whether that’s digitally via our app, via this new card, or through cash.
“We will continue to listen to and be guided by our customers in introducing services.”
NatWest has recently seen inbound calls for support from customers rise 700 percent.