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‘Falling access to cash could harm UK economy’, industry warns

A new report from the peak security industry body highlights the vital place cash holds in the UK’s economy.
Cash image

The organisation representing the security and cash-in-transit industry - British Security Industry Association (BSIA) - has called on retailers and local authorities across the United Kingdom to promote the use of cash as a SAFE choice of payment during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

The BSIA has produced a report, Cash is a SAFE Choice, which includes evidence-based research from organisations like the British Retail Consortium, the World Health Organisation, Which?, Association of Convenience Stores, UK Finance and members of the cash industry - including G4S.

The report highlights current sentiment towards cash, which views it as an avoidable transactional tool, as the public return to shopping centres and hospitality businesses.

Using industry and expert voices, the study demonstrates how the push for a “cashless” society takes away choice from the consumer, poses a serious threat to the cash-in-transit industry, and could damage the recovery of the UK economy.

The United Kingdom still comprehensively uses cash as a method of transaction, and although there has been a decrease for a number of years, it is still a vital payment option for many.

The report states that in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little or any evidence that using cash can spread Coronavirus, as well as highlighting the work that members of the industry are carrying out to keep cash in circulation as a safe choice.

“Over two million adults remain unbanked in Britain, some by choice, some by access. An estimated 1.9 million rely on cash for nearly every transaction they make, and eight million would struggle in a cashless society,” Sarah Staff, Head of SaferCash, BSIA said. 

“Our Cash is a SAFE Choice report shows we are not yet - if ever - ready to be ‘cashless’, as many media reports are referencing.

“The public are being swayed with constant marketing and reminders to pay by card, ditch cash, shop online and keep things digital, and a great deal of businesses and retailers are simply refusing to accept cash without explaining why, which promotes fear and incorrect perceptions.

“Taking away cash from communities who not only rely on cash and the many who use cash as alternative payment is taking away choice of a valid transactional method, and we are calling on all retailers and local authorities to pull back from taking hard currency out of the equation and to put into place information that support as relevant tender.”

Gareth Skinner, G4S Cash Solutions’ Head of Operational Risk, who also chairs the BSIA’s Cash-in-transit section, said:

“The negative impacts are not just to the cash industry, but to the whole UK economy, which is one of the main reasons the BSIA is highlighting the importance of cash usage.

“This needs to be looked at now and not wait for the industry to get past the point of no return. Retailers and local authorities should set the example the public need, to ensure there are no negative repercussions. The public and consumers will then lead by example.”

Cash is a SAFE Choice is available from the BSIA website