“Sorry, we don’t accept cash” has become a familiar refrain in shops and eateries in recent months due to fears that handling cash could accelerate the spread of the virus. So, are we on our way to a cashless society?
Predictions of the death of cash are not solely a result of the pandemic. Discourse surrounding the ‘cashless society’ pre-dates lockdown by many years and trends such as the introduction of online and mobile banking, the disappearance of ATM machines and the rise of contactless payments have long been features of modern society.
The cashless society?
There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated this trend, with credit and debit card usage soaring. The maximum contactless spend was recently upped to £45 to facilitate this, with 66% of Mastercard transactions in the UK now contactless and 45% of people stating they have used cash less during the crisis1.
However, research states that cash is still a necessity for 25 million people2. A 100% cashless society assumes that every person has the means, technological know-how and ability to pay by card for every transaction. So, while the grip of cash on Britain is undoubtedly being eroded, it will be important to maintain access to cash for certain groups of society, including the elderly.
2Age UK, 2020