Recognising the essentiality of cash, a number of UK banks are offering cash delivery services for those unable to go out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is Money reports that customers of Barclays and Tesco Bank can order up to £500 (around €560/US$664) to be delivered to their home by Royal Mail special delivery free-of-charge. NatWest will also deliver cash to customers providing they are considered to be in a vulnerable category (e.g. if they are elderly, disabled or suffering from COVID-19).
While Lloyds Bank does not offer home delivery, it will allow a designated ‘trusted person’ to collect up to £100 on behalf of a customer. A slightly different approach is the Post Office’s ‘payout now’ service, via which a customer can request a barcode voucher for a specific amount of money from their account, which can then be passed to a trusted individual who can exchange it for cash at a Post Office Branch.
Cash withdrawals across the UK surged in the lead-up to England’s second lockdown in November, with more than £174 million withdrawn on Sunday 1 November—the day after the lockdown was announced—which is 27 percent higher than an average Sunday since March. A further £238 million was withdrawn the following day, the highest figure since 16 March when England first went into lockdown.
A recent survey by financial consultancy Enryo supports the value of cash, with 76 percent of respondents saying the Government should do more to maintain people’s access to cash when bank branches and cash machines close. 61 percent felt shops and businesses that encourage card payments are excluding those who prefer to pay cash, and 26 percent said that if a restaurant or shop no longer accepted cash, they would take their businesses elsewhere.
This research shows a growing number of people throughout the UK now want the Government to not only protect their access to cash, but also to ensure cash continues to be an accepted payment method for everyday goods and services.
Essential to many small businesses and rural communities, and preferred by those seeking the privacy and tangibility offered by physical money, it is unsurprising that cash has been withdrawn in higher-than-usual amounts around the world as countries grapple with COVID-19, in a pattern commonly seen during times of uncertainty or disaster. Making cash more available can only be a positive step in ensuring payment choice is preserved during the pandemic.