/ Money

Freedom to Pay: what’s next?

Our Cash Summit brought together everyone who’s anyone in banking and finance. Now, we’re discussing what’s next for our Freedom to Pay campaign.

In May, we welcomed the government’s unprecedented commitment to ensuring cash continues to be available to those who need it. Our supporters helped make this an issue that no-one could ignore.

The announcement showed that the government has heard us, and will now lead a new group to reduce the barriers people face when accessing cash.

Here are three of the biggest events and meetings we had last week to support our campaign:

1. Our Cash Summit

We hosted a Cash Summit with over 140 attendees talking about what’s needed to ensure people have the freedom to pay in whatever way suits their needs.

This included conversations about how to protect cash while it’s still needed, and actions businesses and the government can take to support people as they transition towards digital payments.

The event included speeches from Gwyneth Nurse the Director of Financial Services at the Treasury, Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the powerful Access to Cash review, the Managing Director of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) Chris Hemsley and our CEO Anabel Hoult.

Joel Hills from ITV news hosted a panel discussion featuring Jenni Allen the Content Director at Which?, Natalie Ceeney, Martin McTague the Policy and Advocacy Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, John Hutton the Director of Payments at Nationwide and Mark Barnett the UK President of Mastercard.

Check out our Twitter hashtag to see more about the points that were discussed.

We know that some people choose not to use cash, but we believe that it remains a vital back up for everyone when systems fail. On the day of the summit we launched new research showing that 7 million people experienced an outage in the last year which prevented them using their debit or credit card.

We also discovered that one in ten people affected by an outage suffered a financial penalty, such as a late payment fee. The same proportion said their credit score was damaged because they failed to pay a bill on time. This received coverage across national and local media.

2. The Welsh Assembly

As Thomas Docherty explained last week, we gave evidence to the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills committee for their inquiry into Access to Banking Services in Wales.

We highlighted the impact of bank closures across the nation, and that many Welsh people struggle to access online banking services due to poor connectivity.

We called on the Welsh Government to support our calls on the UK government to introduce a statutory duty and to do more to improve internet and phone signal across Wales.

3. The Scottish Affairs Committee

The Scottish Affairs Committee in Westminster questioned the Minister John Glen MP, and representatives from the Post Office, as part of their Access to Financial Services inquiry.

The inquiry has been running for three months and we gave our evidence in March. We know that some people in Scotland have fewer payment options due to poor connectivity, the country losing over a third of its bank branches in eight years and regular cashpoint closures.

The Committee has strongly supported our campaign calls, and today asked the Minister to respond. This activity in the Westminster Parliament continues to apply pressure to the UK government to take urgent action. You can watch the session here.

What’s next?

Our campaign is far from over. We’re continuing to apply pressure to the government and the regulators to ensure they deliver on their promise, and the last week shows just how much we’ve got going on to help make this happen.

We’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s supported us so far, and for your contributions to previous topics here on Which? Conversation.

Did you welcome the government’s commitment to protecting access to cash? Do you feel supported by your bank as digital payments become more and more common?

Liz Farrow says:
8 July 2019

Has anyone else been contacted by aggressive and threatening phone calls and letters from a company called ‘Quickcollect’, purporting to be chasing alleged debts owed to the Internet Company Supanet? These debts go back over 8,9 and 10 years, and refer to ‘unpaid bills, non-returned routers etc’. The company threatens the use of debt collectors and to change one’s credit ratings. This must be very worrying to elderly people.

Kathleen says:
10 July 2019

I attend a lot of local markets and craft stalls, as well as car boot sales and jumble sales. I need cash for these occasions.
I also think that children need to handle money to understand its value, cards just provide numbers.

Dani says:
11 July 2019

I live in London, and as lovely as it is to ‘tap’ onto a bus, I hate that I can’t use cash. Why can’t they accept coins at the very least? Busses in Japan have little machines that accepts coins and gives correct change in seconds, we should adopt that here.

Dr Ron Barnes says:
11 July 2019

Cash is absolute. You can do business with it any time any place. It does not depend on the vagaries of bank IT systems, broken internet links, no mobile signal, flat batteries or remembering frustrating passwords. Nor does it require the input of absurdly long account details. Cash is simple, quick, convenient and robust. If someone had not invented it already, I could have made a fortune doing so.

We should not acquiesce to the expectations of big business to, yet again, manipulate our way of life to their benefit. Banks are part of the service industry. In my dictionary at least, to “serve” means “to do as one is bid”. Time for the banks to honour that definition.

As per the previous post, I believe cash is no longer allowed on London buses.

DerekP says:
13 July 2019

…and I’ve never paid cash when shopping online.

I have………🙂 . . Well sort of…….

I once wanted something on eBay that I wasn’t willing to pay in advance for, so arranged to meet the seller, examined the item then handed over the cash.

Does cash on delivery still exist?

vishy harihara says:
12 July 2019

Nowadays under the disguise of technology people in power has forgptten persons like KEVAN and oldage lonely people and mis using the technology

peter bradshaw says:
12 July 2019

This brave new cashless society is most certainly not in the interests of consumers, rather it is primarily an exercise in data mining, with results for sale to practically anyone with the ability to pay. People such as Kevin, the aged who perhaps are not computer literate, in fact, practically everyone ,INCLUDING YOU, are at risk. Please campaign hard to curtail these sneaky underhand activities.

Michael Madeloff says:
13 July 2019

Banks closing staff not needed larger profits.No thought for the people that do not have internet access .why not close The Royal Mint who will need you.

Mark Board says:
13 July 2019

With Cowes, population 18,000, now having no bank in the town (we used to have four), traders have to make the 10 mile round trip to Newport to bank their cash. An additional 1000 miles per week of pollution and 100 wasted hours travelling.
Is this progress?

Mark, post offices accept cash deposits from business who have accounts with most banks, and probably have more convenient hours than their bank branch, according to this: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/everydaybanking. 3 of the 5 post offices in Cowes are listed as offering current account services. Do you know if these don’t take cash deposits from traders?

13 July 2019

A lot of elderly people rely on cash machines , If we did not have them yet another lifeline has gone . So the elderly and lonely would not have a reason to go out and communicate with people .Not everyone has a computer or smart phone , going out to get cash is a reason to see people

You would get better human interaction from the post office and a supermarket cash back than from an ATM. 🙂 .I hope we will get many more local business dispensing cash to far exceed the ATM network and help far more people with their cash needs..

Richard Flatman says:
13 July 2019

Post Offices will accept cash deposits but only in pre-counted full cash bags. There needs to be a cash counting machine in post offices to overcome this problem for small charities depositing cash. There should be some of these available from some of the closed recently refurbished bank branches!

I think banks have similar rules to speed up handling. They can then weigh the bags to check the contents. I don’t understand why it is a “problem”. Counting coins is not difficult and charities [and other operations] need to know how much they have in cash before they pay it in. Mixed-coin money bags require £1 so any additional coins will only be a small amount and can be left until next time. The coin counting machines in some supermarkets make a deduction for the service provided so I don’t think that would be popular in Post Offices where space is usually tight.

Allan Maciver says:
Today 17:01

It seems unreal that some think we can do without cash. It is true that cash is being used less and less. I can stand in my local shop and be the only person paying by cash. I am sometimes thanked for using cash!! I like many received my first pay packet in cash, it was and still is good to see money. Just a thought cash will work even when online services go down, we rely so much on the internet, on – line etc.