/ 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.

15/12/21: UK Finance proposals

Today, UK Finance launched proposals to support people’s access to cash. The solutions were achieved by the Access to Cash Action Group (CAG) created ahead of our Cash Summit in May, in which UK Finance Chief Executive David Postings made a series of commitments to enduring people can continue to access cash.

We welcome these proposals, but we believe that only legislation can secure cash’s future. Last week we called on banks to pause branch closures until new/alternative solutions to support access take effect.

We’ll be watching closely to see how the measures are working, and prevent communities from being cut adrift.

13/05/21: 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.

Tom Marshall says:
16 August 2021

The point about scammers is a very good one. Organisations will always tell you that privacy and access to funds through them is completely secure. If that was true the scamming industry would not exist.

Just signed and glad to do so, I’m thinking of the elderly generation especially those who have no family to help them, a cashless society would be damaging yo them and stressful in addition to low income persons and window cleaners, stall owners etc, and zi like to give a small donation here an there to the homeless sitting on cold concrete on a cold day, how could I brighten their day unplanned without coins/cash

I think the threat of a cashless society is wildly overplayed. I do not see it happening anytime soon. I hope Which? will keep this myth at bay, while still promoting ways as many people as possible have the means to withdraw cash when they need it.

Being able to withdraw cash and businesses maybe not accepting it in payment are separate topics.

Iris says:
16 August 2021

Government trying to take over our money and what we do with it They have almost taken over our lives.

All of the money controlling systems are designed and operated by the banks but their customers are expected to pay when their systems which are enforced upon us go wrong “WHY”. The banks are just money shops that charge us for everything they do including their mistakes in their operating systems. Whatever the banks do they do for themselves not for their customers. We have a name for them PARASITES.

My bank has never charged me anything and nothing has ever gone wrong with my current account. But then it’s a mutual building society.

I think scammers should be sent to prison for a very long time

The Governments around the world need to do a lot more to prevent Scammers from operating once they have been identified by the FCA. https://www.change.org/InvestmentScams
Please sign and share the above petition to help put a stop to these criminals who ruin lives.

I am going to add the link to which so that people who sign our change.org petition can sign because the more support victims get the faster our Governments will act.

Banks need to warn customers on a regular basis about scam companies and FCA need to work closer with Banks so that new information is given to Banks so that they can help customers avoid these scam companies like so many of them did with Binance.

Jane says:
19 August 2021

My name is Jane
I use to have my disability benefits paid into Nationwide Building Society my money was taken by some one with multiple
Identity’s for over ten years and my money was not protected
I reported this fraud to the police . I think bank’s‘a and any other financial institution should be a damn sight more. If myself can not be protected. Then want chance does the working man or woman have.

Had a phone call today on my mobile the person said they are investigating fraud and they have suspended my national insurance number and told me to press 1 on my phone I did not I just shut the phone down is there anyone else out there who had this type of caller .

Thousands, Andrew, — it’s become one of the most common scams recently. You did the right thing.

See the following Which? Conversation focusing on the National Insurance no. scam —

That Conversation from May 2021 has attracted over 300 comments. It is patently a fraud attempt because only the Department of Work & Pensions could possibly suspend a person’s NI No. and they never do so other than in the most exceptional of circumstances — and certainly not over the phone!

Eric says:
26 August 2021

Prison does’nt work for anybody!! What is needed is banking traceability to see just who and where fraudlent dealings are made.

I am 90 years old and am more or less housebound, particularly in the pandemic. I no longer drive and my bank seems to have stopped providing cash by using an internet link. I understand this in these days of criminal activity, but I still have a need for cash. How can I do this?

Geoff, my own bank is RBS and the local branch was closed four years ago. The nearest now is 11 miles away in a nightmare-to-park, busy shopping centre in the middle of the city that is difficult for me to access and walk round. As I am disabled and unable to use public transport, of which there is little anyway, this is not an option for me. The nearest ATM, free or otherwise, is three miles away but an almost impossible uphill walk from where I can park my car. Apart from the physical difficulties I am cliniclly vulnerable and still have no desire to be in public places with unmasked people who will not socially distance. During the lockdown RBS set up a service where one could order cash over the phone, which was sent by Royal Mail registered delivery. I used it several times but haven’t neded it since July so I don’t know if they are still doing this. It might be worth asking your bank if they offer a similar service.

Elaine Walker says:
4 September 2021

Just had email from hotel in Suffolk where myself and daughter are staying next week, advising that they are not accepting cash payment for ANYTHING! I object to being dictated to as to what payment I choose to make, especially if its less than £5!

Elaine — Did the hotel give a reason for refusing to accept cash? I would be tempted to take the service and then offer cash and say there is no alternative. Their decision could amount to a breach of contract if it had not been set out in the terms and conditions on the basis of which you made the booking. It probably doesn’t suit you to cancel the holiday but I feel you have the right to do so.

Patricia says:
10 September 2021

The move towards a cashless society is just another Orwellian attempt at social control of the poor. Resist! Refuse! Our right to choose!

” 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.

A C Bostock says:
11 September 2021

Cash in the UK is legal tender, therefore our government should make illegal for any company, shop, store, etc to refuse to accept cash in payment for goods.

I feel sorry for the very elderly who prefer to have their state pension paid weekly in cash and then sort it into amounts for their household bills including food shopping, gas, electricity etc etc. they then pay the latter bills at a post office.

Ann — If they could go out to the post office every week to collect their pension they can go to their bank [or their nearest post office] to withdraw some cash. The cash payment of pensions led to a lot criminal activity against the elderly including violence.

Janette says:
23 December 2021

Our local post office is at risk. The nearest bank is 14 miles away with no public transport. This needs to extend to post offices too.

Jay Jay says:
23 December 2021

I fear this is all by design, to get us all on to a digital currency via mobile phones. These are very dark days indeed. And then we will have a Chinese model of the dreaded Social Credit System. This is a terrifying prospect.

dennis says:
23 December 2021

Were as we used to walk to our local bank branch in minutes its now a tram or bus journey 2 hours round trip, our country as gone mad and polititions have lost the plot. But is this all by design to force everone into the digital world of control and also trace where we spend our money.
George Orwell 1984 was right, he just got the year wrong!

Paying for everything by card is a stupid idea given the charges imposed by the card companies. What if you only want to make a small purchase such as a daily paper or single loaf of bread? What happens if the internet connection goes down or hackers take it down? Street collections for charities etc, have they got to have a mobile bank card reader. also not everyone has or can afford a smartphone especially the elderly and poorest.

A shift towards a digital only currency is all well and good but what about those who cannot afford smart devices to access financial services? What about the whole swathe of society, namely the elderly, who are at best uneasy with digital affairs – not everyone grew up with a smart device glued to their hands! There will be a time for everything to go digital, but that time is not now.

Cash is king , cards can be lost, stolen, or hacked. Clubs and social societies use cash for small payments of admittance and refreshment costs. We do not want digital currency to be the only medium of exchange. The older generation have no use or desire for an I-phone and should not be excluded for not having one.