Cost of cashless ‘crippling’ small enterprises
A weekly ritual or once in a while treat, takeaways were one of the few services available to the public during the strictest period of lockdown measures in the U.K. Scots spent one billion pounds on takeaways in 2018, and with many turning to takeaways during periods of lockdown, this figure is only set to increase in 2020.
As a consequence, “some business owners in Scotland are calling on their customers to pay with cash - saying the hidden costs from card payments are “crippling” them.” Speaking to a variety of restauranteurs in Edinburgh, many business owners stated they were losing profits due to the astronomical cost of contactless transactions. The cost of card payments, known as merchant service charges, can see small businesses paying around 0.25-0.35% for debit cards and 0.7-0.9% for credit cards. The fees, according to the interview participants, have taken away so much profit, the hours of working were barely worth the gain:
“The more money I make the more they make and the more you work the less profit is for you. I've been working 12 hour days during the lockdown but seen less profit because I have to pay so many charges.”
Ordering online? Delivery giants like UberEats, Just Eat and Deliveroo take a cut of the profits too. Altogether, the costs escalate so quickly that the end profit for the restauranteurs does not reflect the growing demand for the services being offered.
As lockdown measures ease across Scotland and the rest of the UK, allowing members of the public to visit restaurants and takeaways in person, it is to be hoped that more restauranteurs call out for cash payments. This will remind the public that cash is safe to use during Covid-19, support small businesses, and doesn’t line the pockets of non-cash payment providers cashing in on fake news they spread about cash.
Zaheer Aslam, of the business podcast Chattin with Z, said: "Small business owners have been telling me they are concerned that, between the fees they are now paying for the increased card machine use and the costs for using third party companies, it is not sustainable.
"They are saying to me they want customers now to return to spending money on-site so they don't have to pay the high commission costs to third party companies.
"With more card payments and less cash they are saying the increased overhead costs are too much and they say their businesses as a result are suffering massively."