If you are still using notes and coins occasionally, you have something in common with around 50 million adults in the UK. They, like you, are continuing to choose to sometimes use cash.
But have you ever thought about what your life and the lives of your friends and family would be like if cash was gone altogether, in a Britain where you could no longer choose to use cash, because Payment Choice had been taken away from you?
Sadly, a no-cash UK is what we seem to be rushing towards, with our usual sources of cash, such as ATMs and bank branches, fast disappearing – and with an increasing number of businesses refusing to accept our cash.
Here are the seven superpowers of cash and why we urgently need it to stay, why we must maintain Payment Choice for everyone.
One in five people would struggle to cope in a cashless society. Think of those who do not have internet connection or access to online banking, they make up around 6% of UK households. Taking cash away from financially vulnerable people could also lead to heart-breaking isolation and reduced human connection. It’s not fair to exclude people.
Each time you pay with your card or mobile wallet, that transaction is saved and stored. It may surprise you to know that banks then sell your data. Everything from your balance to your latest transaction can be sold and used by third parties. They make millions from your information. Cash gives you back control. You can spend without “Big Brother” watching you.
If we look at China – where cash has been forced out – the government can freeze, drain, or impose rules on anybody’s account at any time. And it does. In 2019, 23 million citizens were blocked from paying for flights. In 2022, some Western banks froze the accounts of protesters too. What could happen tomorrow, here, and in other countries? We cannot give up control of our cash: it helps protect our freedom.
Power outages happen at banks all the time. In 2019, over 1000 were reported in the UK alone, and, as the world moves online, more hacks and trips are to be expected. That’s why we need to keep cash alive. Cash doesn’t crash, it keeps things running smoothly when technology lets us down. This happened just a few weeks ago in New Zealand, for example.
15 million Brits – more than a quarter of the population – use cash for budgeting, and for good reason. Research shows that we spend between 25-40% more money when we pay using a bank card. Now more than ever, as we battle the cost of living crisis, we need to be able to transact in cash.
Britain suffers more bank card fraud than any other country, with 134 people out of every 1000 being impacted. We need to protect ourselves. Keeping a healthy flow of cash means that less of our money is vulnerable to attacks.
Card companies like Visa and Mastercard are not free. Every time you make a payment, the shopkeeper is forced to pay them. To make up for this, they will need to increase the prices of their products. This means that you pay more too.
Each time you pay with a card, Visa or Mastercard earn money. A £20 note could be passed around forever, but a £20 card payment would only be worth one pound after 200 transactions.
The future of cash is not guaranteed. At the Payment Choice Alliance, we’re asking for a future where nobody is excluded, trapped, or forced to overpay - and where everyone has the right to choose how they want to pay.
If you believe that cash deserves a place in our tills - and our lives- forever, take a moment to write to your local politician. You can find a template and email address here. Sending one email takes just a minute but could help protect Britain’s future for generations to come.