NFRN members are among thousands of supermarkets and shops around the country who have committed to continue to accept notes and coins by signing up to Which?’s cash-friendly pledge, an initiative designed to ensure that millions of consumers who rely on cash are not excluded by the transition to digital payments.
This move recognises that not all customers are yet ready or able to pay digitally and the NFRN is encouraging members to sign up.
The Bank of England also supports the introduction of the pledge. Its Chief Cashier Sarah John said the ability to use cash remains vitally important for many people, and 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.
A massive shift towards online shopping over the last year and scare stories about the safety of cash handling prompting some businesses to go completely cashless have led to a huge drop in cash usage. Which? research found that 34 per cent of consumers reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced.
Now that restrictions are gradually lifting, Which? wants to ensure that the 10 million consumers who are not ready or able to give up cash are not left in a position where they can’t pay with notes and coins as a result of businesses permanently refusing cash.
The launch of the pledge coincides with Which? Today (May 13) hosting a summit on the future of cash that will bring together representatives from HM Treasury, banking and payments giants and leading industry experts.
The summit will cover the challenges as well as the potential solutions to ensuring that cash can remain a viable method of payment for those who have no other option. This will include issues such as how cash dependent consumers can access cash locally and for free in the face of sharp cuts to the UK’s ATM and bank branch network, as well as how levels of cash refusal should be monitored.
The event takes place more than a year on from the government’s announcement that it will legislate to protect cash in last year’s Budget. However, there has still been no indication of when this will be introduced.
At today’s event the consumer champion will call on the government to set out when legislation to protect access to cash will be introduced and provide greater clarity about its long term plan to ensure that the millions still reliant on cash will continue to be able to pay with cash as digital payments become increasingly dominant.
This should include putting the Financial Conduct Authority in charge of the cash system, and prompt it to investigate how widespread the issue of cash refusal is, as plans to protect access to cash will be undermined if there is nowhere left to spend it.
Anabel Hoult, CEO of Which? said:
Our cash-friendly pledge will reassure consumers who rely on cash that they won’t be left behind as we make the transition to digital payments.
“We’re asking retailers to sign up to the pledge because the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the decline of cash usage – threatening the whole infrastructure that ensures millions of people who aren’t yet ready to make the switch to digital payments can access and spend their own money.
The government announced it would legislate to protect access to cash more than a year ago. Now it must set out when this will be introduced and explain its long-term plan to protect cash for as long as people need it.
Retailers can sign up to the Which? cash-friendly pledge here (link is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfWoMXYkoq-gxwfVxTVf__ZeA8OnxkusI2nJ_9kUb4oHv7jdg/viewform?gxids=7628