/ Money

Don’t close down cash now that we’re opening up

The warning lights continue to flash for the future of cash. Here’s why the government cannot afford to ignore them.

For the 5.4 million people in this country reliant on cash in their everyday lives, the story of dwindling access to it is a familiar one. When we surveyed over 2,000 people in July, more than half of them had encountered access to cash or banking issues. 

But it is the speed at which these changes are happening that is of most concern.

Our analysis of recent data from LINK, the UK’s largest cash machine network, revealed that the number of ATMs in service has dropped by almost 8,000 (or 13 per cent) since March 2020 and shows no signs of recovering now that the economy is opening up.

It isn’t just ATMs. Bank branch closures have also ramped up since the first national lockdown: 801 have shut their doors so far and a further 103 are earmarked for closure by the end of the year. 

A worrying trend

As we look to build back better from the pandemic, we cannot exclude certain groups of consumers, including those reliant on cash, from participating in the recovery. Encouraging cash usage also helps boost local economies since we know that those who take cash out are more likely to spend it locally.

Yet protecting access to cash is only part of the problem – the other, equally important, side of the coin is whether shops and businesses even accept it. Unless retailers can commit to taking cash as a payment method, ensuring reasonable access to it will hardly matter.

Our survey in June found that over a fifth of respondents had experienced cash refusal since March. A small number of shops have previously refused to accept cash due to the cost of handling it (security protection, paying people to count and deposit it). But many have stopped doing so during the pandemic amid confusion over how the virus spreads, or because they have shifted their business models online. 

However, data suggests that this reluctance to accept cash is happening against the will of consumers.

We found that over 80% of people thought that businesses and shops should continue to take cash, including those that don’t use it themselves. Businesses agree. A recent Post Office survey revealed that far from finding cash to be a relic of the past, two thirds of firms thought it was important to the recovery of the UK retail industry.

Our Cash Friendly pledge

Firms that can should state clearly that they will will continue to accept cash from consumers who still rely on it – as many have done by taking Which?’s Cash Friendly pledge.

The initiative is supported by organisations such as the Bank of England and British Retail Consortium, large retailers such as John Lewis and Aldi, as well as many independent shops and businesses across the UK. 

The government has proposed that the FCA becomes the lead regulator of the cash network. In this role, its responsibilities should extend to tracking levels of cash refusal to better understand the scale of the issue. If necessary, it should also develop solutions so that cash dependent consumers aren’t left in a position where they can’t purchase essential products and services.

The warning lights are flashing for the future of cash – and the government cannot afford to ignore them. 

Comments

This topic seems to be repeated but without anything new to add, and without addressing the comments that have already been put forward.

A couple of weeks ago the Which? headline was:
“Revealed: majority struggled to access cash or a bank branch during the pandemic”
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/08/revealed-majority-struggled-to-access-cash-or-a-bank-branch-during-the-pandemic/ – Which?

” Our survey of over 2,000 people found that almost three in five have experienced one or more issues accessing cash or a bank branch in the last 12 months. One in four respondents told us they experienced at least one cashpoint issue. One in six said a cashpoint they use had run out of cash or not been working when needed, and one in eight said a cashpoint they used has been removed or has introduced charges.”
3 in 5 – the “majority” – had a problem. That’s bad news. Once in the last 12 months? That seems much less of a problem and hardly justifies the headline.

“Which? analysis of data from LINK, the UK’s largest cash machine network, shows that over the past 18 months the total number of ATMs in service has dropped by almost 8,000, equivalent to 13% of the total number of machines. Most of this decline occurred during the first few months of the pandemic (March to May 2020). But since May 2020 there’s been relatively little further change which suggests these closures will be a permanent reduction to the network.”

The LINK data for the last 18 months shows 54127 ATMs open in June 21, 60549 in Jan 20. A decline of just under 11%. Of these. pay-to-use declined by nearly 18%, free-to-use by 8.3%. A significant part of the decline in “open” is attributed to premises (temporarily) closed for access due to Covid. Both ftu and ptu ATMs are now reopening – more in June than in Dec 20. “But since May 2020 there’s been relatively little further change which suggests these closures will be a permanent reduction to the network“. As we are only just getting some normality after the lockdown, with premises reopening, that statement seems premature.

“We also found there are stark differences in the proportion of cash machines that charge for withdrawals across the country. For example, the proportion of pay-to-use machines in the West Midlands (28%) is nine percentage points higher than that in the South East (19%).“ I am not sure of the relevance of this, but what matters is the continued distribution of free-to-use ATMs in any locality that is currently served, that are within reach of the inhabitants; that does not mean one on every street corner but within a reasonable distance. LINK has a protection policy in place to deal with this. So without this information the comment does not seem very useful.

There are more free-to-use ATMs now than there were in 2010, despite the huge increase in internet banking and the substantial decrease in our use of cash. As for access to cash, add in the 11000+ post offices that have offered this service for the last 3 or 4 years and we have more cash-access points than we have ever had.

No mention of the Access to Cash initiative which, if successful, will roll out across the UK to give far more people access to cash then ATMs, banks and post offices could ever offer.

As for being denied the ability to use cash;
” Shops are continuing to refuse cash payments even after lockdown restrictions have eased, new Which? research shows. One in five people reported being unable to pay with notes and coins when trying to buy something between April and July.
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/09/one-in-five-people-blocked-from-paying-in-cash-since-lockdown-rules-eased/ – Which?

In a 4 month period 1 in 5 went to the shops and on one occasion found cash was not accepted. In my personal view that hardly merits the accompanying headline ” One in five people blocked from paying in cash since lockdown rules eased”

It goes on ” most likely to be unable to pay in cash when shopping for groceries, which accounted for a third (35%) of incidents.”Well, not really, most (65%) were not groceries. It all depends upon the point you want to support.

If businesses find a particular tactic – not accepting cash, for example – is losing them trade then they will change, I expect. I wonder which grocery shops on those single occasions refused cash? It doesn’t say.

If we are going to pursue the future of cash sensibly, we need make sure the whole story is published so a proper discussion and assessment can follow.

I use cash – much less than I did – and want to continue to be able to get it and spend it. As the world changes we need to adapt – living in the past doesn’t work; ATMs and bank branches will decline as we use them less and less – they are commercial operations, not charitable institutions – but if we want them subsidised then we must be prepared to pay for it. Personally, I think the proposals in the pipeline stand a good chance of working and Which? should be working constructively to help them along. I also think shops will continue to accept cash in the main – they want our money. The arguments about the cost of handling cash will be changed if they are also allowed to dispense it without a sale, as the Access to Cash trial is testing.

In the town where I live all the remaining free to use cash machines have now gone, tsb were the last to go when the branch closed just recently. And that was also the last bank in that town, now there’s none, the nearest are now about two miles away, which is also the nearest place where you can now get a mini statement for own account.

As of 30th August 2019 “ From today, should a high street be threatened with the loss of its last ATM, LINK will step in to ensure that a free-to-use ATM is made available and paid for with funding from all the UK’s main banks and building societies if there is no nearby Post Office counter to serve that community..
Does your High Street not have a Post Office – they dispense cash without charge.

A few years back, the bête-noir was the credit card company charge to the retailer to use their cards. There was some debate and disquiet when it was muted that these charges should be passed on to the customer and they never were, unless you had an American Express card or one with so called additions to it.
Now it seems that counting money is a chargeable activity and customers ought to use cards so shops can avoid it. That is, of course, hog wash used by those seeking an excuse to turn cashless.
Which? needs to identify and shame any business or shop that refuses to accept cash. Which? should lobby the government to legislate on this issue and make cash sales compulsory. Leaving it to the common sense of the retail trade is not good enough. The simple fact that cash is a physical thing, carried in pockets, makes it invulnerable to power cuts, hacks, ransom stoppages and technical malfunctions. The arguments about the part of society that does not use cards and is not computer savvy has been well aired here but that argument is still valid and relevant. This issue is one where public opinion should dictate cash usage, and until the public reject cash it should be legal tender everywhere, without exception.

Which? should be specific about those shops that will not accept cash. In my view a business is entitled to trade on its own terms and accept the consequences. If my local coffee shops chooses not to accept it my choice is not to use them. If my post office won’t sell stamps for cash, a different matter. But I fear a fear campaign is being spread and I would like to see some facts.

Malcolm, the reality is, sooner or later, hopefully later, technology will dictate we are going to have to learn to live without cash, and the focus should now switch to liaising with the financial institutions with a view to finding suitable replacement/s that don’t impinge on members of the public who are unable, or unwilling to keep pace with present technological advancement.

The BoE currently have no immediate plans to eradicate cash, otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to all the trouble of changing the old paper cheques to polymer, which will last much longer, but it does admit the likelihood that cash will eventually be phased out as more and more people automatically turn to card purchases.

bankofengland.co.uk – How Has Money changed Over Time? Will cash Die Out?

Looking forward, questions need to be raised with the banks to establish their future plans to accommodate the disadvantaged to ensure their financial needs are met.

I always worry when someone says “the reality is” as if it trumps other views. 🙂 I do not see it happening anytime soon. If people do not have bank accounts – and a significant number, over 1 million I believe, don’t – then I don’t see how they can use a card. It must be very difficult having no bank account though. And how will children deal with it – will they all have cash cards loaded by someone?

Likewise, I don’t think there are many “members of the public who are unable, or unwilling, to keep pace with present technological advancement” — if that’s what abolishing the use of cash is. I think for all but a handful of people cash is a practical necessity as has been so frequently revealed in all the thousands of comments that Which? Conversation has received on this topic.

Many members of the public also have legitimate concerns about the security of the so-called technological advances that are frequently emerging. There is no denying that contactless payment is a very convenient method of paying for some things with additional benefits [like when boarding a bus it speeds up the passenger flow] but like many modern applications it can be a solution looking for a problem and is not strictly necessary. Conversely, there are thousands of examples of where cash is virtually indispensable for various types of transaction for which economical, effective, trustworthy and, in particular, ‘pleasing’, alternatives are not available. People have tried to suggest otherwise but they have consistently failed to attract much support.

While the Bank of England “might currently have no immediate plans to eradicate cash” that is a perverse way of presenting the issue. It is not up to them, or the retail banks. A more positive guide is that the government has made, and reiterated many times, a commitment to retaining the availability of cash and is investing in alternative approaches to the supply of cash and its accessibility as Malcolm has so often reported.

I understand there is a current problem that large quantities of cash are currently being kept by people because they are out of the habit of spending it in shops or paying it back into their accounts. This has caused shortages of certain coins and new ones are having to be minted. There has recently been a pledge from the Bank of England that it will continue to issue 1p and 2p coins for as long as necessary, inflation being the enemy in this case but, rightly, it sees the ready availability of the lowest denomination coinage as helping to inhibit inflation.

Mooted not muted. Oh dear, back to school.

There have been many discussions about the need to retain cash for the benefit of those who prefer to use it. Perhaps it would be worth having a Conversation exploring the difficulties and risks of the alternatives. Fear of the unknown is clearly a factor.

I have in sequence been wary of using cards (a long time ago), online banking, contactless cards, mobile banking and phone payments, but have never had any problem. At the start of 2020 I decided to see how I would get on without using cash. The first time I have needed cash was recently when I had a haircut and the card machine was not working. I have little doubt that there will be more venues that will not accept cash. I had a drink outside a pub yesterday evening and there was a prominent notice: “We’ve gone cashless”.

I continue to support retention of access to cash but would like to see some discussion about living life without cash.

I hope the going cashless trend in pubs and shops is for speed and convenience and not out of an unwarranted fear of infection from handling money.

There are, of course, security implications and pilferage concerns with dealing in cash but it seems too coincidental that the present retreat from cash is associated with precautions around a prevalent disease.

Although I routinely use cards for payment, and some days when I am out have not spent a penny in cash, I cannot bring myself to go out with no coins in my pockets or notes in my wallet.

Can you “spend a penny” using a credit card?

Every alternative to cash relies on some form of electronic processing before it can be used to purchase something or pay for a service. While the electronics and communication channels are working this is often quicker and simpler than handing money over and accepting change. Any glitch in the system brings trouble, which can be short lived and inconvenient or longer and catastrophic. Even the humble Oyster card needs the bus to accept it before you can ride.
Electronic transfers in the banking world now rely on the ability to transfer money without actually sending a courier round with it to another bank. While interruptions in this system are serious, they don’t stop the public buying things in every day life. Cash is the only physical non-electronic currency available to us. Various electronic payment systems rely, also, on customers having the right technology. This is currently highlighted in the world of electric car charging where you need a phone full of apps to get any power from the charging point. A car park might need an app to contact the payment meter to the council. You need a mosaic reader to access the codes on some screens. That does make life complicated, especially for the non-technical and those with a flat battery on their phones when they need them.

The government have committed to supporting the provision of cash. The numerous discussions started “to protect it” seem to be trying to raise anxiety about something that isn’t real – there is no sign that we are heading to a cashless society anytime soon. There have certainly been changes in the payments system to widen the methods available for settling debts and buying products and services, with online banking and purchasing as major drivers. For the greater convenience of consumers and business.

A simple consequence is a shift in the balance between cash and other payments, but it does not imply the extinction of cash. There are still a huge number of cash transactions made by consumers – 23% of all payments (by number) apparently in 2019, the second most popular method of payment. That does not indicate, to me, any argument for its demise.

I think we need to separate changes in the use of cash from changes in access to cash – they are not the same. Using less cash, as we do, means we withdraw less so traditional sources will be pruned to remove those that are uneconomic (although protection by subsidy is in place in particular places). ATMs are expensive to install and service, many were in clusters or close together and could be thinned out. But we have added over 11000 post offices as free sources of cash. The government is also backing trials to allow cash businesses to dispense cash without any necessity to make a purchase. There are alternative initiatives to supplement what already exists for the benefit of far more people. Why, then, are some predicting the demise of cash?

I use cash for somewhat fewer transactions than even two years ago, mainly because I always felt paying with a credit card for something costing less than a fiver didn’t seem quite right. That has changed, and not because of contactless cards but because it is a general habit. Is it a good one when all these transactions include a charge to a commercial organisation that administer the system, “creamimg off” their cut of each transaction? Although a small extra charge, it does add to consumers’ costs. When a retailer does not have to bank cash, with the costs that entails, if they dispense it to their customers, will they perhaps introduce a “no card below £5” policy?

I don’t expect a “world without cash” anytime soon but, if I wanted to make my life more difficult, I can easily try it by keeping my pockets and wallet empty, as some already do. But I won’t. While it might be entertaining to examine the cash-free life I see it as an academic exercise with no purpose – other than to fuel a false fear. But Conversation can be used for people to give their own experience of such a lifestyle.

The premise underlying this Convo is “ The warning lights continue to flash for the future of cash.”. Not a statement that is supported by fact, is it? I would like to see a more objective approach from Which? rather than one that seems aimed at trying to support sensational headlines.

Indeed. In fact the signals for cash are remaining on green. I propose this topic not be revisited for at least another twelve months. It’s tiresome having to constantly set the record straight because Which? just won’t note the reality.

”Change is inevitable, change is constant.”
Benjamin Disraeli

The facts, or reality, whichever you prefer, are supported by the Bank of Englands link in my above comment.

”While the future of cash is uncertain, it is unlikely that cash will die out any time soon.
Over the coming years, it is likely that alternative digital payment methods will become ever more widely accepted and used, in fact in 2017, debit cards overtook cash as the most frequently used payment method in the UK.”

Money is printed according to demand, which means, as digital payments become ever more popular, the need to print money will become less. You cannot hold back change. With that fact, or reality in mind, most successful businesses make forecasts in order to plan ahead for the future. This is fundamental to all business, and the same principle is applied by the banking industry.

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”
Michael John Bobak

With that in mind, as Wavechange makes a valid point, a constructive way forward would be to hold a conversation to discuss alternative ways for people who currently rely on cash, to pay for future goods and services.

From the Bank of England’s website:
What does the future hold for cash?

Over the coming years, it is likely that alternative digital payment methods will become ever more widely accepted and used. In fact, in 2017, debit cards overtook cash as the most frequently used payment method in the UK.

Even so, many people will continue to use cash in their daily lives. Many people say that they like cash because:

It is a fast and convenient way to pay
It is very widely accepted
It is helpful for budget management
Some people also like the fact that cash payment is entirely anonymous. It is easy to access cash, with over 45,000 cash machines in the United Kingdom that are free to use.

As for spending time discussing in a Convo ” alternative ways for people who currently rely on cash, to pay for future goods and services.” this might be of interest to some, of course, but should not be approached, in my view, from the fallacious premise that they will have to do so because cash will no longer be available. We should not raise unfounded fear, much as it might generate publicity.

Malcolm – it is most likely by the time digital payments become the normal method of payment for everyone, an alternative will be made available. The DWP are already making alternative arrangements for people who are unable to open bank accounts, to supply a voucher card system to ensure their needs are met when the change comes into force in November.

If the following is what you refer to then, as far as I can see, this service allows the beneficiary or their appointee to withdraw cash from a PayPoint outlet.
”Payment Exception Service
The Payment Exception Service is a way for people who do not have a bank account to collect benefit or pension payments. They’re only available in very limited circumstances.

Payment Exception has replaced Simple Payment. Contact the office that pays your benefit if you used Simple Payment and have not received a letter about moving to the new service.
How to get your money
You may be sent a payment card. You can use this to collect your payment from any PayPoint outlet that offers the Payment Exception Service.

If you do not have a card you’ll be sent either:

a voucher by email
a text message with a unique reference number

Just because something becomes “normal” – the most used perhaps – does not imply that all other methods will be withdrawn or cease. Just as the “normal” mode of transport is personal does not result in the abolition of public transport.

Yes, that is what I was referring to, which is a step in the right direction. Slow steady progress is better than daily excuses.

I, and thousands of people who have responded to Which? Conversations on this topic, do not see the total abolition of cash as an indicator of progress since it will cause some inconvenience to almost everyone, and significant disruption to the lives of many. I have not seen many examples of the advantages of a loss of cash facilities reported in the media but I have to accept there could be some for some people. No political party is advocating it, I notice.

What change is that? It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I have to live on benefits because of so many severe disabilities and there’s often been talk of denying cash to benefit claimants and instead issuing vouchers but that can cause serious problems for some of us, as I sometimes have to go to places like engineering merchants to get stuff for work on my home as we don’t all live in so-called “social” housing. And there’s far too much of a grossly pig-ignorant and very narrow minded attitude among some of those lucky enough to be able to work that all welfare claimants simply waste far too much money in places like betting shops, off licences and “convenience” stores where they supposedly all buy gallons of beer and lager and lottery tickets and filthy porn stuff etc. Well we’re certainly NOT all like that! Absolutely not! I’m fast approaching 60 and I’ve NEVER entered an active betting shop and I only drink fizzy water which I make myself with a sodastream as anything else now makes me seriously ill, and I absolutely DESPISE filthy porn, it makes me sick, it’s not remotely exciting and I don’t do lotteries either. Most of my money goes on food and various household and personal essentials as well as tools and hardware for my home etc. And occasionally some components for the odd electronic project or repair, and also occasionally the odd new part for an essential appliance, and the odd can of paint or water proofer and rot and woodworm killer etc. And right now my biggest spend is on my ongoing central heating installation. So STUFF the attitude of those far too quick to wrongly judge! I don’t think any engineering suppliers would accept lousy dwp vouchers, and I sometimes need stuff like extra heavy duty rawlbolts made from stuff like 8.8 steel as the cheapy ones in the local hardware shop or the big diy sheds are no good for some jobs like hanging a dirty great 90lb radiator on a wall, which don’t forget is much heavier when filled with water!

I’ve notice more supermarkets have reduced the number of machines that say ‘ card payment only’ is increasing. Morrisons,tesco local and coop only have one machine accepting cash. I think we’re heading for a card only monetary system,and I think it will be linked to the covid passport. No vaccine,no access,no cash (possibly)

While the self service tills may generally only take cards – maybe the cash option was little used – I have seen no evidence of cash being refused at manned checkouts. Certainly they prefer to take card payments, but probably for convenience and speed. Have any supermarkets routinely refused cash in payment?

It is important that commerce reflects customer preferences in the provision of payment facilities so retailers will adjust the availability of their checkout machines to reflect demand [which is primarily for speed of throughput]. It does not follow from that that there is a planned route starting with Covid through exclusion from shops to the abolition of cash.

I do not stand in the way of modernisation and greater convenience for certain purposes but there is no need for these benefits to be at the expense of cash facilities which remain almost universally necessary at some level in order for our society to function sensibly for everyone. Fundamentally, the use of cash excludes no one, which cannot be said for any other system of exchange.

I HATE stupid self service payment machines as in my experience far too many of them keep refusing to work whenever I try and use them, or if they do work then they seriously short change me, so I have to take a stand with the staff to get what the stupid thing owes me or else far too often they absolutely WILL NOT accept ANY of my coins, or notes or my card either! Yet they’ll still work fine for anyone else, both before me and after, so I try another machine and it’s the same again, and a third one, still the same. So I’ve stopped going to supermarkets altogether. And this absolutely DOES happen so don’t anyone dare try and dispute it. I don’t find them remotely “convenient”.

I can understand “Pay by Card” but now the Covid is under control and WFH persons are being asked to return to the office then all traders should accept cash as well as cards for payment of goods.

If shops and restaurants begin to put up notices telling us they only accept card payments, then that is the beginning of a change in the High Street. If all machines are changed to card only that will reduce the use of cash. We may be able to draw cash when we want it, but then can not use it. At present this is just a small change, but I fear it may become more widespread. It follows that we then become a cashless society. It’s a scenario which could develop in quite a short space of time.

That is certainly a risk and would be a most unwelcome development. I would hope there would be customer resistance and that traders will realise that the restriction is not worth it. I would also hope that if it became a significant trend the government would step in and legislate against it, at least up to the contactless card payment limit [changing from £45 to £100 on 15/10/21] so that a choice of payment method remains available. I don’t always carry my cards with me when I go out, especially in fine weather when I don’t want to wear a jacket, but I usually have cash on me so before I stroll down to the pub down the road or to the baker’s I would have to remember to get my cards out and take them with me. I think premises that impose such a rule should be expected to declare the justification for it at this particular time. A side concern is that it will become even more difficult to keep track of the cost of a pint or a loaf and inflation will take off.

The Intro to this Conversation tells us that ” . . . over 80% of people thought that businesses and shops should continue to take cash, including those that don’t use it themselves. Businesses agree. A recent Post Office survey revealed that far from finding cash to be a relic of the past, two thirds of firms thought it was important to the recovery of the UK retail industry“.

I’m on holiday in Oxfordshire at present and two of the pubs I have visited have prominent notices to ensure that visitors are aware that they are cashless. I expect they are the exception and they were chosen because they had outdoor seating.

What would happen if you ordered a round of drinks, they were poured, and then you offered cash to pay saying you didn’t have any alternative?

Pub landlords have a reputation for refusing to accept cheques or to put bar bills on the slate, but now some want to go further and reject cash for no particular reason. Do they want their trade to recover, or not?

I don’t know, John. At present I’m trying to stay outside pubs or if necessary go through to get to the outdoor seating area.

I would be more concerned if essential consumer-facing businesses were to generally refuse cash. Perhaps there is some information about this? The parliamentary report 2019 told then that 100% of convenience stores accepted cash:
”A 2019 survey found that 100 per cent of convenience stores accept cash, with 95 per cent accepting debit card and 88 per cent taking contactless payments. Indeed, data from 2018 showed that three-quarters (76 per cent) of convenience store customers paid by cash, reflecting the low average spend (£6.50) when visiting such shops.
I think we need this kind of information when worrying about the very unlikely demise of cash. Not anecdotal reports but properly structured surveys.

If “two thirds of firms thought it ( payment in cash)was important to the recovery of the UK retail industry“.” then why is the facility likely to cease?

Welcome to beautiful Oxfordshire Wavechange. I can’t vouch for the pubs, but the village store still accepts cash.
I’ll put the kettle on 🙂

Depends where you are in Oxon but if you are near Bucks then I’d be happy, after your tea with Beryl, to treat you to a real ale from my local Chiltern Brewery.

I went round the Oxford Botanic Garden yesterday and there was a prominent sign indicating CARD PAYMENT ONLY. Elsewhere I saw a sign saying ‘JUST SO YOU KNOW we are still CASHLESS.

It is difficult to know whether those premises not currently taking cash will resume doing so, but with the continuing pandemic, those who want to use cash will have fewer options.

It would be good to have a clear message that handling cash and touching keypads is very unlikely to infect you.

Thanks for the kind offers but I’m on holiday with a friend and we have limited amount of time before heading back up north. 🙁

I meant to include this photo:

Perhaps the management will reconsider. There are not too many botanic gardens, so it’s different from avoiding the odd pub or shop that does not take cash.

I repeat myself here, but, cash is the only non-electronic currency. Everything else relies on a battery and the internet. These can and do fail now and then. Electronic transactions are an extra process placed between the vendor and the customer. Ps. They also promote the idea that transactions can be monitored and personal information garnered at will.

Consumer pressure helped to save cheques, but many businesses will not accept them. I carry some cash in case I need it.

A cheque is not a guaranteed form of payment so a business needs to trust its customer before accepting one as payment.

I carry cash and, while on holiday last week, used some to pay for parking, a guide book, a payment to the cleaners, drinks, a children’s soft play visit, the lottery……. On my return I replenished my wallet at an ATM. Generally I use a credit card, both for convenience and to track my spending.

Cheques remain a useful way of paying friends if they do not use online or mobile banking. The banks removed the cheque guarantee from our debit cards years ago. 🙁

As others have pointed out, payment systems depend on having a stable infrastructure: electricity, telecommunications, centralized payment authorities (banks and credit card processors) and staff to operate the systems.

Cash currently provides a short-term contingency for a natural or man-made outage or disaster. We also need to allow for the needs of individuals who do not have access to a card payment system, because their card has been lost or stolen or they are in the process of changing banks. It can take several days to receive a new card and have it activated.

Whether it is cash or something else, we need a backup plan that does not rely on technology to buy life’s essentials.

Michael says:
14 September 2021

As I am now retired I suppose I am more careful as to what I receive by email and adverts, if I do not like the look of anything I just delete it, that seems to work for me.

Liz Daviess says:
14 September 2021

we need to keep our cash safe

Doris. I do not want my surname used in your publication says:
14 September 2021

Banks should not be forcing the communities to go cashless by shutting all the local banks
and allowing some ATM to charge for us taking out our own money. We should not be forced
to use cards in preference to cash and have some shops refusing to take cash. They are there
to provide a service and not dictate how we pay for goods-more customers should walk away
or insist on paying cash.

My wife and I are both in our eighties and our bank has closed down local branches around us.
We rely on cash for our purchases as we buy almost nothing online
Please do not use my surname.

Elizabeth says:
14 September 2021

People’s choice of how to pay , should be respected.This particularly applies to the elderly- who have various problems regarding using credit cards.

Marie Musa says:
14 September 2021

It’s so difficult when paying on line to know if it’s a legitimate company. Credit card company’s need to put more steps in place to stop people being scammed .

If there is any doubt whether you are dealing with a legitimate company then the safest course of action is to do no business with it. There are plenty of elementary checks that can be made to identify good companies, even if their names have been hijacked by impostors.

There is usually at least one fully legitimate and responsibly trading company for almost anything an ordinary person needs to buy.

Credit card companies cannot monitor every sale and generally do not knowingly provide credit facilities to fraudulent outfits. Such sales are usually below the protection threshold [£100] for a purchase on credit. Buyers must beware and make their own checks.

Why credit card companies in particular?

When you pay with a credit card, you are spending their money up to your credit limit. Credit card companies do not settle with the vendor for at least two working days. If you realise you have been scammed, a call to the issuing bank is all you should need to do to have the money credited back to your account. If you are quick, no one needs to lose out, except for the scammer.

Debit cards are a completely different matter. The money is taken directly from your own personal bank account and transferred more or less immediately to the scammer’s bank account, giving them a 48 hour head start over if you had used a credit card for payment. That’s why push payment fraud is such a problem.

And whilst we are on the subject, maybe the Bank of England should put more steps in place to stop people being scammed out of their cash.

A fair point about credit cards. However, I guess many making a purchase by credit card will not know they have been scammed for considerably longer than 2 days. Perhaps for “untested” vendors the credit card companies could retain payments for much longer.

Cash transactions provide the basis for fraudulent and criminal activities. Criminals use plastic cards to service only their non-criminal activities.
If crime for financial benefit is to be seriously curtailed then I suggest that the force of only traceable transactions may help the cause.
I believe that the removal of cash as a means of making financial transactions would help resolve much of today criminal activities.
At 83 yrs old I am grateful for the convenience of plastic and respond to the occasional demand for cash payments with a refusal.

Part of the problem is so many want to pay by card. I know somebody who started a business as cash only. Kept getting card enquiries and, surprise surprise, the majority pay by card. Another lady opened a slimming class of 20/25. Only one paid cash. We are in very serious trouble. It seems more and more just want to tap and go. When the contact less limit goes up to £100 and card is lost it could be three taps and £300 gone. Will the banks reimburse?

When I still went to supermarkets not so long ago, up until early last year, 2020, I sometimes found my card declined when I still had plenty in my account and I also hadn’t anywhere near over spent on it either, but strangely enough the card still worked in local cash machines and it still worked when tested at the local bank branch and it hadn’t been frozen either, so what happened? And I once had to leave my own packed shopping trolley in the supermarket while I went out to a cash machine to get some more cash as I didn’t have enough on me and then go back to the supermarket and pay and then get my shopping back. And I’ve no idea what happened but I think there must be some kind of obscure fault somewhere on one or more supermarket card readers in that town causing some kind of obscure failure on my card, and each time this has happened I had to get a new card from the bank. So this is yet another serious reason why we MUST keep cash payments which must be made a fundamental legal right. And of course don’t forget some seriously disabled folk have serious problems remembering stuff like PIN numbers, as do some suffers of dementia for instance and those people still need to go shopping.