/ Money

Cash Summit: Securing our Freedom to Pay

We’re today hosting a follow-up summit to ensure cash remains a viable method of payment. We’re also launching our Cash Friendly Pledge – here’s how it works.

Post-meeting update

At today’s Cash Summit we were delighted to hear Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen confirm that a consultation on cash legislation will be launched in the Summer. This is an extremely positive development towards getting these critical long term protections introduced.

The government must deliver at pace on it’s promises, or risk leaving the cash system vulnerable to further damage. 

We also heard about UK Finance’s commitment to protecting access to cash, and the launch of its new Cash Action Group, which will be led by Access to Cash Review Chair, Natalie Ceeney, in addition to renewed commitments from the Post Office and major banks to supporting the provision of cash access for consumers.

While we welcome and support efforts from across the cash system to make progress on this issue, we are clear that voluntary initiatives or public commitments can not replace government or regulatory oversight. 

We now need a firm commitment from the Treasury on when this legislation to protect cash will be introduced, as the system will continue to be under enormous pressure until it is brought forward. 

Cash summit

Two years on from our first Cash Summit, we’re bringing together key figures from across government, regulators and the payments industry again to cover the challenges, following the outbreak of the pandemic, as well as the potential solutions, to ensuring cash can remain a viable method of payment for those with no other option.

Now is a critical juncture in the fight to protect access to cash. Despite the government’s commitment to legislation in last year’s Budget, this has still not been introduced, and we remain deeply concerned at the slow rate of progress in getting these protections agreed and in place.

Today, our Chief Executive Anabel Hoult will be calling on the government to set out when legislation to protect access to cash will be brought forward, and to provide greater clarity about its long term plan to ensure that the millions still reliant on cash can continue to access it as the shift to digital intensifies.

The event will include speeches and contributions from Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen, FCA Executive Director of Consumers and Competition Sheldon Mills, Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the powerful Access to Cash review, Matt Hammerstein, CEO of Barclays, Jeni Mundy, MD of Visa UK & Ireland, David Postings, CEO of UK Finance and Nick Butt, Head of the Future Money Division at the Bank of England. 

Our Cash Friendly Pledge

To coincide with our event, we’re also launching our Cash Friendly Pledge, working with some of the biggest names in retail to protect people’s ability to spend cash.

The pandemic has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on the way we access and spend cash. While many people have successfully made the jump to digital payments, enjoying the convenience and speed that cards and contactless can offer, there still remain millions of consumers who rely on cash.

In fact, our recent research found that 2.5 million people depend on cash for every transaction, while 10 million people say they are unready, or unable, to give it up. 

However, with more people shopping online and concerns that cash is unsafe to handle – which have since been debunked by the Bank of England – some businesses have discouraged the use of cash over card, or gone completely cashless altogether, leaving millions shut out from buying the things they need.

Late last year we found around one in three consumers had reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced, including even essentials like food and medicine. 

That’s where our Cash Friendly Pledge comes in: a public commitment from businesses that they’re accepting cash as a payment method across their stores.

Who’s taken the pledge?

So far, we’ve seen some of the biggest supermarkets and pharmacies take our Pledge, including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, John Lewis, LloydsPharmacy and Waitrose. What’s more, we’ve also been backed by leading retail associations that represent tens of thousands of shops across the country.

The British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores and the British Independent Retailers Association are all encouraging their members to sign up. The Bank of England has said that by signing up “businesses are helping to ensure that everyone in the UK is able to use the form of payment that best meets their needs”.

You can find out more about the pledge and see the full list of businesses involved here.

Additionally, we’ve supplied retailers with Cash Friendly Logos which they can use to signpost their cash accepting status in store and online, ensuring consumers feel confident that their cash won’t be rejected at the till. 

Which businesses would you like to see take the pledge? Let us know if you’ve spotted the logos while out and about and help us ensure that cash remains a viable payment method.

Shelley says:
30 May 2021

If they top1 percent control the finances they control everything. In communist states that have gone digital, people who disagree with the state are being switched off from their finances, their lives. The average business loses £3100 pounds a year in digital fraud according to a police advert. It’s not secure, it’s about control. Cash is vital. We need to save it.

Dardy says:
31 May 2021

One time I wanted a bottle of water it was $2 I give them a two dollar coin ibwas looked at funny I said you want payment of do you want me to walk off with it I put the coin down and walked off

The latest press release says ”The government must move quickly with its plans to safeguard access to cash through legislation, to ensure that the system remains viable for as long as it is needed.
The Government seems to be on the case as their Access to Cash – Call for evidence – dated Oct 2020 says:
”1.3The transition towards digital payments brings many opportunities, including the facilitation of enhanced competition in payments services. Nonetheless, cash remains an essential payment mechanism for many. Responses to the government’s 2018 ‘Call for Evidence on Cash and Digital Payments in the New Economy’3 highlighted the importance of cash as a symbol of independence, as well as an important budgeting tool, and as a way that elderly or vulnerable people can access social opportunities.4
1.4 In recognition of this, the government committed at March 2020 Budget to bring forward legislation to protect access to cash and ensure that the UK’s cash infrastructure is sustainable in the long term. This will ensure that those who may be less able to benefit from wider moves to digital payment methods are not left behind, and that cash continues to be available for those that need to use it.
1 ‘UK Finance Payments Market 2020’, UK Finance, June 2020.
2 ‘Statistics and trends’, LINK, accessed on 8 October 2020.
3 ‘Cash and digital payments in the new economy’, HM Treasury, March 2018.
4 ‘Cash and digital payments in the new economy: summary of responses’, HM Treasury, May 2019.
1.5 The government is progressing the design of legislation at pace, informed by a process of close engagement with the financial regulators, financial services firms, and other interested parties. This call for evidence seeks views on the key considerations associated with cash access, including deposit and withdrawal facilities, cash acceptance, and regulatory oversight of the cash system. Responses will further assist in informing the development of the government’s legislation.

I presume Which? will be submitting evidence. There has been plenty of material posted on Convos. I’m not sure we need to panic just yet.

Rita says:
7 June 2021

The government needs to do more to investigate attempts at fraud and actual fraud. They are complacent and failing to protect the public from increasingly convincing daily scam attempts via phone and text.

Anyone who is considering moving from cash to cards needs to be aware of the need to protect their money.

Contactless cards are extremely convenient but must be treated as carefully as cash because anyone could spend your money if they manage to acquire your card. It’s worth putting the number for reporting lost/stolen cards in your mobile phone so that you can contact the bank immediately you are aware that a card is missing. The contactless spend limit was £30 but has been raised twice and is now £100. Unlike stolen cash there is a chance of recovering some or all of your money if you act promptly.

A credit or debit card has your account name, number and sort code printed on the front. These are not secret information and anyone who has ever payed by cheque will have provided these details to the person/company/organisation they have paid. What must be kept secret is the three digit number (CVV) printed on the back of cards. This number is provided when ordering goods online or over the phone and hopefully the recipient will not pass it on. I delete the CVV with a black marker because I don’t want to risk anyone finding it. I don’t know if others do this.