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Championing Cash Use in a Digital Society-a view from Andrew Martin, CEO, Retail Financial Consulting

“It is no secret that cash-use is in decline, having made way for electronic forms of payment which, on the surface, are faster, more convenient and in-line with our increasingly digitised, ‘paper-free’ society. Since the mid-2010s, reports and experts have predicted that the rarity of cash-use is only set to continue, perhaps even until its extinction.

However, cash still has benefits which can not be ignored– one need only look towards the situation in Sweden before being discouraged against endangering the role of cash in society in favour of more ‘streamlined’ services:
For a start, cash’s main attribute is its physical robustness–it does not rely on financial institutions or IT based payment networks which can be prone to power outages, IT glitches or cyber attacks. It is anonymous, totally divorced from online fraud, always there and cannot lose power.

What’s more, its non-reliance on banking structures means there is a perceived safety to cash, protecting it against the endeavours of reckless bankers and economic turmoil(to an extent). Similarly, many consumers who choose not to opt-in to online banking, firmly believe they are protecting themselves by refusing to divulge personal information which could be breached by any given malicious hacker. And you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong in assuming this could happen to you–a survey recently revealed that last year cyber incidents in UK financial services jumped 1000% in 2018.
Furthermore, it’s clear to see that declining cash-use is already having an impact on the British economy and industry. For a start, declining cash-use has contributed to the death of the UK high-street, which recorded its worst year on record for 2019. Through the joint effort of online shopping and online payment methods, there is no longer a need to contribute to local retail services or brands which have failed to adopt an online platform.

Cash main strength is it is anonymous, supports the black economy and is a cornerstone of the SME businesses.
Similarly, with the decline in high-street banks and the lack of ATMs, particularly in rural areas, the high-street is no longer seen as an appealing or alternative channel for consumers.

So what can we do?
With the reintroduction of high quality ATM and bank services, and by introducing ATM features more in line with what consumers can now do on the internet(such as receiving payments via cash), we could see cash-use rise in popularity again.”