/ Money

Mark Carney: Let’s decide the future of money

Does cash hold a place in the future of money or are digital transactions now king? Our guest author Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, wants to know your thoughts.

Money is evolving. So is the way we pay for things, the financial services we use and how we keep the financial system safe.

Bank notes are in the process of moving from paper to polymer, and for many people payment by plastic card is the norm these days.

We’ve seen the rise of contactless payments and even the emergence of crypto-currencies. These changes have implications for consumers. They also matter a lot to us here at the Bank of England.

We print bank notes, we process payments, and we keep your money secure by ensuring that banks and the financial system as a whole are resilient.

Changing payments

Understanding how people use their money and how they feel about changing trends in money and digitisation in financial services more broadly is really important to us.

That’s why we set up Future Forum: the Bank’s first virtual event where we’re asking consumers to talk to us about anything concerning the future of money.

We want to hear what you think about cash, contactless payments, the service you get from banks and building societies, and much else besides.

Perhaps you’ve signed up to the Which? ‘Save Our Cashpoints’ campaign and want to tell the Bank why access to cash through these facilities is so important to you.

Or you might have signed the Which? Action on Scams campaign because you have concerns about the risks associated with bank transfers and new forms of cybercrime. You can share your experiences with others on the Future Forum.

Cash question

Future Forum isn’t about navigating to the end of the road for cash. Bank notes will remain an important form of payment for many years to come.

But new forms of payment are becoming ever more common. And, as we look to the future, we want to know what this could mean for you, whether you’re young or old or whether you live in a city or a rural area.

Our Future Forum will be here until January 2019 and some of those people who are most active on the platform will be invited to a roundtable event with our Governors.

Many of us will be taking part in live Q&A sessions on the platform over the coming weeks, so please register now so that you can take part in these conversations.

This is a guest post by Mark Carney. All views expressed are Mark’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.

What do you think about the future of money? Do you think there’s still a place for cash – or do you pay for everything on plastic?


I have recently had cause to use many taxi services who prefer to be paid in cash. Notices displayed in cabs request minimum charge £10 if paying by card – one good reason to keep cash circulating……..and then there’s the added tip usually paid with coins.

Now you’ve got me worried. We’re in London this weekend…

Well it’s easier in London to get notes from an ATM than anywhere else in the UK as there are plenty of machines around [and some machines dispense Euros].

Alternatively it’s easier to get around London without using a taxi than anywhere else in the UK as there are plenty of public transport options.

I find it almost impossible to make a taxi journey in London that costs less than £10 because waiting time is a high price on the tariff and soon ticks up to more than the riding time.

Norman Heslip says:
21 November 2018

Cash must be king not digital transactions must work for everyone in the world thank you Norman Heslip.

Age is probably a factor, and for those of us who have used money for our entire lives and never given its use a second thought, a cashless society is about as real as making tea with cold water. Increasingly, the electronic world is becoming corrupted and thieves are active in finding any way possible to use new technologies to their advantage. Thus we are told that contactless cards are vulnerable and bank transfers can easily become diverted.
The objection to cheques and cash is that they need to be processed by the banks while electronic money just goes where it is sent. There are less opportunities to correct mistakes and it is easier to make them in the first place. Writing a cheque is easy and usually easy to do correctly. Paying by cash for small items ensures that the transaction is complete when leaving the shop and doesn’t have to go through card agencies to be processed and deducted from a current account, or paid again later, when the statement arrives. With cash there is no worry that the correct amount has been paid, while a tap of a card could lead to an error, unspotted at the time. It probably won’t and it is much quicker, but I still don’t like it. Travel cards are an exception, but these are usually prepaid and essential to get anywhere on some networks.

The argument has been made many times,and is true, that for many local charities and organisations cash is essential. Our weekly raffles and subscriptions come in pounds and other coins. Our coffee evenings and social events rely on cash passing across for the cake and mulled wine given in return. Pocket money is so much more simple than giving a spending card and it teaches basic numeracy at the same time. What is in the pocket is what there is to spend.
To be cashless, everyone who provides a service or expects money for something will need to have some form of electronic machine to recognise the cashless card. This is another avenue for the crooks to plunder from. It also means an infrastructure that we don’t have at present. Anything electronic usually relies on some form of power and some form of communication. Both can be disrupted and when that happens the system crashes. Good solid cash, is simply passed around without any gadgetry to foul up. What’s in the hand or the till is what’s yours until you pass it on.

Mark Wellington says:
20 November 2018

A cashless society would give too much power to the banks. They will will know about every transaction, they will control every transaction, they could refuse to process transactions without giving reason, and they could decide to charge interest on every transaction should they wish. If they didn’t like something the government did, they could refuse to process any transactions until they got their way. This is not something that I want to see.

Stephen Gibson says:
20 November 2018

I prefer paying with my card or phone. It’s much easier then using cash which is easily lost and cumbersome in your pocket.

The next step I’d like to see is being able to pay with a fingerprint or facial recognition. I’d even be happy to have a microchip in my hand so I could pay things. You could never lose a microchip or forget to bring it with you and it means you don’t have to carry anything. I know some people have concerns about “big brother” watching you – but we carry a chip with us in the form of the card or phone we use and that tracks all our spending and where we do it, just like a microchip in the hand would.

Either way, I have no specific love for cash and the only downside I can see if it disappears is that charities could lose funds from the change we give them and also some trades may not get tips.

Don’t believe microchips can be cloned then!

I’d been worrried that someone would chop my hand off so they could use the microchip in it to get my cash.

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“We keep your money secure”. Dear Mark, I have to admire your boldness. I suppose “by ensuring that banks and the financial system *as a whole* are resilient” is a caveat: nota bene, there have been and there will be exceptions.

I mostly pay by card, but there are still many places where cash is the only means of payment, including charity collection tins. Maybe soon these will be electronic and we will be able to key in an amount and pay by contactless card? I think they exist already, but the amount you can pay is so far fixed? I have also heard of beggars (“beggar” a general term, not a judgemental one) already accepting contactless payments.

Our local bus company, Lothian Buses, a cracker in so many ways but this one, still insists on accepting only the right change unless you have an electronic pass (which can take several forms, eg the equivalent of a pay-as-you-go book of tickets, or a pay-monthly pass). One day they will accept contactless payments, when is the question.

An we not just cut and paste the past relevant Conversations on to this thread? It really really is tedious to have to repeatedly deploy the same answers.

Perhaps we could have an answer as to the assurances that the electronic payment system will never fail, the systems will be unhackable, and that humans will actually be secure within it’s operation.

I mention this last point as people being human are open to manipulation, silly urges to buy, periods of mania, and aided by easy overdraft facilities likely to overspend. Result misery.

Coin and notes actually being a physical means of reckoning provide a check on human impulses.

We seem to be missing the fact that cash is used by those on the lowest incomes as a way of managing their spending and the fact that they do not have digital access – smart phones etc. that are required in a cashless society.

I realise I am overseas currently and cannot understand though the video being unavailable


Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here.

The agreement you need to make with Crowdincity and the Bof E is fairly extensive just to give an opinion. I am a little concerned on the literacy …

“We collect your personal ???? to register and provide you with access to the online platform and possible event premises should you be invited to attend the final event.”

Much as I would like to contribute and having between my wife and I several decades of dealing with humans/businesses and money I am at the moment not convinced of the value of posting.

Incidentally Which? it is nice to see you steering some traffic to a consumer concern site. Will you be doinfg the same for other special interest sites or highlighting the various consultations like Leasehold Reform?

It would be nice if members could discuss these matters and perhaps Which? respond on such matters that are rather immediate.

Running a small business where cash is normal, the Post Office will now only accept coins in the small plastic bags provided the bag is full of the relevent coin, daily banking no loger agrees with takings, the Co-op charges for paying in too much cash via the Post Office-Co-op Bank branches are getting like hens teeth, Lloyds charges for paying in cheques and cash, all three want notice if largish amounts of cash are required for floats. Lloyds will now only accept a small number of bags containing cash-how at events where people with buckets take cash and presumably can no longer bank it must be a problem.

Cash continues to hold a place in the future of money, but it will become a rarity. Electronic transactions are already king, particularly in London, and even more particularly with millennials (of which I am not one). I haven’t used cash in the UK for almost four years, although I always carry a £50, €100 and $100 note for emergencies.

The manager of a bar and restaurant in Canary Wharf told me recently that of tens of thousands of pounds of takings, only a few hundred was in cash; almost all their customers now pay by card. Paying by card is quicker, more secure and more convenient, particularly when using technologies such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Nevertheless there remain some problems:

1. We need legislation to outlaw minimum transaction amounts when paying by card. These are most commonly imposed by small merchants, who pay a fixed fee to their card terminal provider for every transaction on top of the usual fee (now capped by EU legislation) that goes to Visa, MasterCard, American Express etc and ultimately to the card issuer. In order for minimum transaction amounts to be outlawed, disproportionately high fees for small transactions by card terminal providers need to be similarly outlawed.

2. Regulation 6A(1) of the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which derives from EU legislation, has prohibited merchants from levying surcharges for paying by card since 13th January 2018, but a significant minority of small merchants continue to do so. The surcharges are generally £1 or less, so card issuers absorb the loss if card holders complain, which allows the errant merchants to continue their malpractice without sanction. An effective system needs to be implemented to enforce this new legislation.

I hope that the Pound Sterling will continue in its current cash form. There will always be a place for cash, albeit an increasingly limited one. Mark has impressively been governor of two developed countries’ central banks whose currencies bear the Queen’s portrait. If we got rid of cash altogether, it would be rather odd if the only currencies to bear the Queen’s portrait might one day be those of less developed Commonwealth countries where cash remains king.

Hi everyone,

We’ll shortly have Michelle Scott on from the Bank of England to join in this conversation – do make her feel welcome.


Thanks Oscar 🙂

Do let Michelle know your questions, everyone!

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The Wilkinson affair is interesting. There’s a detailed report in the FT (paywall).

Can’t see how it will extend the government’s “full control over the public and (ability to) manipulate them to their political /economic advantage”. They more or less have the control they need, anyway.

It has been amazing to read all the comments on here about the Future of Money. In particular the impact on small businesses, future technologies and even the fate of supermarket trolleys! These are exactly the kinds of views we’d like to see feed into our discussions on Future Forum.

Welcome to W? Conversations, Michelle.

I think cash will see me out so I am not going to worry about what the prophets of doom have to say.

My habits are similar to Vynor’s. I need an amount of notes and coins whenever I go out for planned small expenditures and for the unexpected opportunities that come up at the market, or in a charity shop or antiques stall, or to buy a small publication from a charitable or voluntary organisation.

The dry cleaners, shoe repairers, newsvendors, florist, hardware store, sweetshop, pub, key-cutters, café, railway station, tourist office, taxis, artisan bakery and the cake shop are among many traders whose palms I have contaminated with cash in recent weeks. This might be small beer to the banks and other financial institutions but it is the thread of life in the real world.

Those who find pleasure in buying everything they need under one roof can carry on enjoying the convenience of paying with plastic. I prefer [and I have the time for] doing things differently so I wander around our city centre visiting small shops and stalls picking up odds and ends and having services provided for me and paying in dirty, sticky, creased and crumpled cash. This way I get hold of things that are not run of the mill, not always perfect, and probably better value for money, and that have not travelled ten thousand miles to get here.

It must be so offensive to the banks when the traders pay in this haul of grubby dosh, soiling their polished mahogany with the sweat and grease of honest toil.

Technology offers alternatives for payment, many of which have advantages over a ‘cash only’ society. However that is not a reason to remove cash. Better to see a variety of acceptable methods as the optimum. Technology puts the power in the hands of banks and recent experience with RBS, TSB and others hows how reliance on a single pathway causes chaos when that pathway fails. Banks have a vested interest in stripping out the cash option, it reduces demand for branches and gives them a path to maximise profits by stripping out costs. Responses by banks when customers experience fraud tells you all you need to know about the dangers of relying on the unaccountable sector. In the name of inclusivity, it is a path we should resist in the same way we have resisted the the demise of cheques (and even postal orders!). These should remain universally accepted and available options.

KENNY says:
24 November 2018

the banking system forced us all to have bank accounts, remember wages in a brown envelope ? every time you transact online some ******* is trying to steal from you, all I want is cash transactions. people who pay for stuff on a mobile phone are taking hellish risks in my view. I mean, the amount of time you are forced to type in your bank details to god knows who..your asking for it really !

I use a mixture of cards, mobile app and cash, I have come across situations where at a supermarket I use, the card payment was not working properly at the till, didn’t bother myself as I had cash as well, yet the look on the next customers face was a picture, because he obviously only had cards? I also remember recently when there was a problem with visa payments, and a lot of people were stuck,as they didn’t have cash etc, I’ll always carry more than one form of payment, because neither of them are foolproof.

Crypto Currency is the new innovative way the world will sooner or later be accustomed too.
I can send my brother in Thailand £500 in seconds for a massive cost of 3p.
Alot better than Swift or Western Union who will charge £25 and it takes 4-5 days..
The blockchain technology behind crypto currency will be ruling the universe in the next 5 years.
Why not have a universal crypto currency, so every country uses the same money..

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I sold a house recently and the money was paid to my solicitor, who duly forwarded on to me. I wanted to send most of that money to the financial company who look after the bulk of my money. (This is a highly respected company operating quite legally in the U.K.) I was not able to send £100,000 by BACS; I understand that, in the last few days, it is now possible to transfer £25,000 using that route, but that must still be too low a ceiling for many transactions.
I finally had to write a cheque, take it to my solicitor, which I did in person, because of the amount being sent, and the solicitor duly transferred it to the intended destination. This still seems an extraordinary cumbersome way of moving money; what would have been the better way, in view of the BACS limit?

At the other end of the money-moving issue, how do other people pay for the cleaning that is done in their homes? I write a cheque for the super lady who helps me and I know it gives her much more trouble having to travel to her bank and draw the money there. Her bank, like mine, is a few miles away from her home. Mine is not even on a convenient bus route from my home and I no longer drive.

The response of “why don’t you have a direct debit arrangement with her?” doesn’t allow for variabilities in the weekly payment.

how do all of us add to charities’ income if we can’t drop money…coins or notes…into the tins held out to us? Not all of us conduct our lives with direct debits, regular BACS transfers, credit cards and the like. Most of us use coins and notes at some point in our lives, e.g buying a coffee in a hurry at a railway station…