Earlier this week, consumer organisation Which? launched a campaign to improve access to cash for consumers across the UK. Supported by thousands of consumers online, they are urging the government to act. They believe that the difficulty in accessing cash is damaging to those who rely on it and are campaigning to #ProtectCash.
As we’ve reported historically, the UK is moving closer to becoming a cashless society, with digital and contactless payments increasing year on year. Last year, a review declared that the UK’s cash economy was “on the verge of collapse”.
In the past two years, more than 9,000 free cash machines have disappeared from UK streets, with 25% of those remaining adding a charge to withdraw funds. Similarly, 1,200 bank branches have closed, leaving many struggling to access the cash in their bank accounts.
Which? CEO, Annabel Hoult, has urged the government to put a plan into action to maintain the UK’s access to cash.
And it seems that the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is paying attention to the campaign. Yesterday, it was reported that he is set to announce a plan to combat the situation in his first Budget. Under the proposed scheme, businesses across the country will offer cashback to consumers who want to access cash – with banks footing the bill for business owners.
Transaction fees associated with providing this service would then be covered by the banks - which works out cheaper for them than maintaining a network of banks and ATM’s.
Along with improving access to cash, this cashback initiative would see benefits for businesses accepting card payments. They could see improved footfall and an increase in sales, with more consumers visiting in store.
This service would turn independent businesses into stronger pillars of the community, playing a vital role for those in more remote locations.
No further details have been raised so far, but if this initiative does come to fruition it could spell a turning point for the UK consumer and their access to cash.
Here at Handepay, we understand the role that cash plays in our society. However, we think that independent businesses need to take action to allow customers to pay how they choose.
Accepting card payments has a wide range of benefits to a business, and with reduced access to cash across many communities, they will become more vital than ever.
It’s estimated that Britain could become a ‘virtually cashless’ society in as little as 15 years, with many thinking that the shift could come sooner.
Independent business owners need to act sooner rather than later and expand their payment options to remain competitive in a digital Britain.