Since 1956, Which? has been guiding tea-crazed Brits towards the nation's holy grail of kitchen appliances - the kettle. Now, they are using their platform and research insight to steer the country away from the dangers of an enforced cashless society.
'How?', you ask. The only Which? way, of course. By looking at the cash debate from the consumer's point of view and demanding their voices interests be taken into account.
'We’re well known for testing household products, like washing machines and digital cameras, but that's not all we do. Tackling consumer detriment and making positive change on important consumer issues is also a core part of our work.'
In a world of contactless payments and flashy new banking apps, it’s easy to forget about the cash in your wallet. But cash is a necessity many couldn’t live without and it’s a vital backup when digital payment systems fail.
Small business owners. People who have to live on tight budgets. Rural and isolated communities. Some people living with disabilities. These are just some of the people who rely on cash.
“Consumer choice must be protected by guaranteeing national access to cash.'
A chain reaction
The campaign was launched in response to the threat on cash posed by the shocking rise in ATM and bank branch closures, revealed in a Which? report published early last year. The report identified 200 'cash desserts' in Britain with poor ATM provision and warned that LINK's plans to cut interchange fees by 20% would pressure cashpoint providers into cutting unprofitable cashpoints even if vulnerable people depend on them.
Unsettled by their findings, Which? are now calling on financial regulators to intervene and actively defend the public's ability to withdraw cash without having to travel miles or pay to withdraw it. The problem is the accelerating rate of cashpoint closures suggest that it is being driven by profit margins rather consumer needs. Afterall, cash is a pubic and social good, and that means individuals cannot be effectively excluded from using it.
"Charity is to will and do what is just and right in every transaction."
Excerpt from Which? campaign page
ATM operators told us that they had reduced their estates in anticipation of the cuts to interchange, which they claimed threatened their entire business models. This fee was previously set at around 25p. LINK’s original proposal would have seen it reduced to around 20p over four years.
Our analysis of LINK data showed that ATM closures had accelerated dramatically in the months after it first announced its plans. LINK originally disputed our findings, but later published figures showing the picture was even more bleak than we had found – ATMs closed at a rate of more than 500 per month in the first five months of 2018.
LINK disputed the findings, but later published figures showing the picture was even more bleak than we had found – ATMs closed at a rate of more than 500 per month in the first five months of 2018.
“Cash is a vital backup as fallible digital payments grow in popularity, so the UK government must appoint a regulator to oversee these changes and ensure no-one is excluded and left struggling to go about their daily lives.”
Which? does not hold back in its reasons for the petition, nor should they. Indeed, cash is a necessity, and it is high time the public banded together and stood up against those trying to eliminate the one payment form that has unfailingly defended their rights for thousands of years.
A call to action like this, however, is only as powerful as the voices behind it, so really, it may be up to the people who sign the petition to see it through.
What is Which?
Which? is the trading brand name and subsidiary of the registered charity (Charity Number: 296072), Consumers' Association, launched in 1957. The UK-based organisation has become a trusted source for shopping guidance, founded with the aim of raising and protecting product standards across the country. Which? tests goods and services, publishing their findings and campaigning against bad practice.