Cash is Inclusive

Dec 8, 2023

Designed with inclusion in mind, cash is accessible to all. There are no credit checks, age requirements or other limitations when paying with notes and coins. Their physical nature also incorporates features that make them easily distinguishable, supporting financial freedom for all, including people with visual impairments or learning disabilities.

For many, using cash is an option for making a transaction quick, keeping it private, or doing it offline. For others, there is no alternative, because cashless payments are unavailable or inaccessible to them. Progress has been made in recognising the importance of cash to equality, with Slovakia amending its constitution this year to ensure everyone has the legal right to purchase goods and services using cash, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand describing cash as ‘a fair and equal way to pay and save’, Poland scrapping plans to limit cash transactions, and Washington D.C. becoming the latest US region to require its businesses accept cash.

According to data published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in late 2022, around 4.5 percent of US households­—representing around six million people—lack an account with any bank or credit union, and Black and Hispanic households are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be unbanked.

Every American should have the right to pay in cash. There are too many stores and businesses that want to reject it in favour of digital payments. But cash is the only option available for millions of Americans to pay for food, housing, and other essentials.
"Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's 10th District

Cash is also a very accessible payment method, with its physical nature giving it unique advantages over cashless options. The Welsh Parliament was recently advised that businesses refusing cash are discriminating against people with disabilities, with The Royal Mencap Society—a UK charity working with people with learning disabilities—saying physical money is key to ensuring many vulnerable adults can manage their own finances.

I’ve got two sons with learning disabilities. My eldest son would wrestle you to the ground if you wanted to take a £20 note off him, but he would freely give you his card and tell you his PIN because it means very little to him.
"Dot Gallagher, Chair, Mencap Môn

On top of being easily recognisable and countable, nearly all banknotes and coins worldwide include visual aids to make them readily usable for people with visual impairments. Coins are often different sizes and shapes depending on denomination, and banknotes incorporate features such as the large numbers and tactile markings on notes produced by the Bank of England.

Cash makes economies more inclusive by providing payment choice for all. Maintaining it alongside cashless options ensures everyone has a way to receive payments and buy goods and services, regardless of their income, age or social status.

But inclusion is just one of the joys of cash! Look for us on your social media channel of choice to see our full series and find out more about how cash supports a safe, resilient and joyful world.

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2023