Farewell cash – my old friend

Without doubt, the pandemic has accelerated the trend toward a cashless society, with both credit and debit card usage soaring and “sorry, we don’t accept cash” becoming a well-versed refrain in shops, as fears increased that handling cash could accelerate the spread of the virus. The maximum contactless spend was increased from £30 to £45 on 1 April to facilitate this.

Recent data shows that 66% of Mastercard transactions in the UK are now contactless and 45% of people responding say that they have used cash less during the crisis1.

Predictions of the death of cash can’t solely be attributed to the pandemic, however. Debates encompassing a cashless society certainly pre-date lockdown, with trends such as online and mobile banking, the rise of contactless payments and the withdrawal of cash machines being features of modern society for a while.

However, it seems cash is still a necessity for 25 million people2. So, although cash usage is reducing, it will be vital to maintain access to cash for certain groups of society, including the elderly. A 100% cashless society assumes that every person has the means, technological know-how and ability to pay by card for every transaction, but we’re not there yet.

1Mastercard, 2020

2Age UK, 2020

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