Millisle (Northern Ireland)

Millisle is a community of 3,500 people. It ranks in the top twenty ‘places of deprivation’ in Northern Ireland as a result of a high percentage of people on benefits. The community has both an ageing and young population and sees its population almost double in the summer months due to tourism. The town has a strong working group looking at both access for cash and wider community issues.

Millisle piloted a wide range of solutions to support local residents, people working or shopping locally, tourists, and local businesses. The services piloted were:


Bank transactions – at the Post OfficeThe local Post Office was refurbished, so that it could offer you a better service to support personal banking. The Post Office is still available for customers across virtually all banks to withdraw and deposit cash, deposit cheques, pay bills, and more.  Small businesses can deposit their takings and can order and collect floats. Consumers and small businesses can use this service regardless of who they bank with.

Support to get online banking and work digitally. Not everyone finds digital banking easy or straightforward. We offered practical support to help people get online. We ran weekly events and hosted daily support in the Community Hub on Main Street. 

Cashback from local retailers –we worked with retailers to offer cashback so that when people bought things from local stores, they could also ask for cashback of any amount – whether a round figure (e.g. £10) or just what they needed.

Guide to what banks can offer.
The banks offer a wide range of services that most people don’t know about. As we set up these pilots, we had requests for a lot of services – and found that many were already offered. We wrote a short guide to these services.

Make coins easier to store and spend. We trialled  a new solution, run by a British company called Shrap that enabled people to receive change on a card or mobile app when paying with cash. The service was free and worked like a ‘virtual coin jar’ where change can be stored and spent anonymously with businesses and friends.


Cashback for customers – at no cost to the business.
With  limited ATM facilities in Millisle, we believed that many consumers would welcome the chance to get more cash locally. We also suspected that if people got cash locally, they would spend it locally. We therefore offered local retailers, cafes and restaurants the option to give out cashback to consumers, with costs covered by the pilot.

Coin Recycling so that businesses could handle less small change.

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

This service was provided by Shrap, an independent, FCA-authorised start-up based in Poole, UK.