Personal Accounts of Why Cash Matters
From hospitality workers to churches, many people are losing out in the shift away from cash. Business news site marketplace.org recently spoke to a cross-section of individuals who are hoping to see cash use become more widespread in the wake of the pandemic.
Commitments from the UK Treasury to improve cash access and early indications the cost of living crisis may be hastening a cash comeback will be welcome news to the eight million Brits who rely on physical money on a day to day basis. Alongside them are those who may accept and use a range of payment methods, but nonetheless see the greatest gains from cash.
Many hospitality workers depend on tips to supplement their wages, and should their employers shift towards cashless payments, there is often a corresponding dip in extra earnings. In April, we looked at American workers losing out as more customers made non-cash payments, and in the UK Emma Kirby—a waitress at a beachfront café in the seaside city Brighton—has had a similar experience.
We don’t take cash at all… People pay with their cards online. They can add tips on that, but the tips are definitely not as good as they used to be. Definitely not!
Nearby along the seafront, Paul Hughes-Barlow, who works as a clairvoyant and palmist, has introduced digital payments to improve customer choice, but he prefers to take cash. Like many, he appreciates its tangible nature when it comes to budgeting and accounting.
Cash is fantastic… I mean, you can actually sit there and count the money to see how much you’ve made in the day rather than going on an app. You know what you’re doing with real money, don’t you? You can see where it goes.
Churches are also feeling the pinch, with marketplace.org speaking to Father Felix Mascarenhas at Brighton’s Church of the Good Shepherd, who says around half of its income arrives in the form of cash gathered in collection plates. He remains unconvinced that a cashless economy is on the way, but admits the potential is cause for concern.
People like to give a pound here, a pound there, or just throw in some coins… [A cashless society] would be bad for the churches, of course. They would be hit hard.
Street musician Neil Mason makes a living from ‘coins and coppers’ and is not confident in shifting to cashless payments. Were Britain to become cashless, he says his present career would become untenable, meaning he would have to fall back on odd jobs and gigs at pubs and clubs.
Like Father Mascarenhas, Hughes-Barlow is hopeful this worst-case scenario will not come to pass, saying: ‘I think cash is here to stay. It won’t disappear entirely.’ With initiatives under way to bolster access to cash, and new Banking Hubs opening to improve coverage of deposit and withdrawal facilities—plus more to come as cash looks set to play a role in supporting people through the financial crisis—there’s good reason to believe he is correct.