A cashless utopian future? Sure, but it may take some time

Written by on August 7, 2017 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

The death of cash in the U.K. is a slow burn and we often feel like the poor relation when compared to progressive countries like Denmark and Sweden where cash is increasingly marginalised. Much has been written about the costs of taking cards and how it puts retailers at a disadvantage compared to taking cash. So it’s heartening to read in that well known financial publication the Mirror, about a coffee shop that has stopped taking cash and the benefits to their business.

Before they stopped accepting cash …

“Around 70% of our customers today pay by card, yet we spend up to five hours a week cashing up, counting the float and banking the cash.”

“On top of this time consuming task, any discrepancies have to be cleared with my team of 12 – and then we have to deposit it at the bank, which costs more cash. It’s such a faff.”

And that assessment takes no account of the downstream costs of cash handling at the bank and in transit. When assessing the cost of payment methods how many businesses look at the true costs of cash?

So why do so many businesses still take cash and in many cases ‘punish’ customers who pay with cards (although such practices will be banned in the UK next year)? A belief that taking cards is too expensive? A desire to avoid an audit trail of takings? A belief that cash gives their customers greater control over their money?

Yes there’s a cost to taking cards but it’s typically less than it used to be, in part because of EU intervention. When cash is used to evade tax, that in itself is a reason to move away from it. Cash gives customers very limited control over their money because of the difficulty in tracking spend; app based banks like Monzo and Starling are much better ways of tracking and managing money.

The most recent time I paid with cash I realised that the previous time I had to use cash was in the same store. The barber I use is still cash only despite my attempts to convert him! So for me at least a utopian cashless future is definitely getting closer!

You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @sevendotzero

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathan has been working in payments for 18 years covering digital money, identity verification, telco billing, finance systems and consumer payment services; in both startup and corporate environments. Most recently, his experience is in developing alternative consumer payment models. "I'm passionate about removing the friction and frustration from payments. The convergence of payments and mobile technology and its impact on consumers fascinates me." You can follow Jonathan on Twitter at @sevendotzero .


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