Safeguarding Payment Choice
Cash is an essential component of payment choice, and has long been under attack from groups poised to profit from cashless transactions and keen to eliminate cash. Now, organisations seeking to defend access to and the right to use cash are rising worldwide, and the UK is no exception.
In 2019, the Access to Cash Review opened the discussion of access to cash across Britain, calling on the Government, regulators and banks to ‘act immediately’ to avoid letting down the eight million adults who depend on cash to meet their daily needs. More recently, the broader value of cash to people of all ages and backgrounds was highlighted by Martin Kearsley, Director of Banking for the Post Office, who noted in February: ‘it is not just the vulnerable, elderly or less financially able customers’ requiring cash services.
Despite the ongoing popularity of cash, the pandemic provided ready ammunition for its opponents, who falsely claimed banknotes and coins pose a serious transmission risk, despite central banks and health authorities confirming cash is safe to use.
Nigel Constable, Chair of the pro-cash organisation UK Cash Supply Alliance, notes that some retailers used early scares as an excuse to refuse cash payments, since bank closures have made it more difficult to pay in cash, especially in more rural areas. Nonetheless, he remains positive that cash usage will recover as footfall around shops rises, and people will continue to value having notes and coins available.
I am confident that cash has a long-term future… The global economy continues to expand and, in local economies across the world, people value cash for the same reasons: certainty of value, immediacy of settlement, low costs to make and receive payments and ease of management.
Beyond the pandemic, journalist and expert in young finances Iona Bain points out the ongoing ‘war on cash’ will continue to be driven by financial companies who stand to make ‘an extra trillion dollars in fees’ worldwide each year from cashless transactions, citing data from Boston Consulting Group. Despite this, she says the privacy of cash is becoming an ever-more valuable commodity in an increasingly online world, and that its reliability makes it an irreplaceable part of the payments landscape.
[Cashless payments] can never fully replicate the solid, reliable and fully private nature of cash that is cherished by so many.