UK retailers sign up to cash acceptance pledge
Thousands of supermarket and shops around the UK have signed up to a cash-friendly pledge from consumer champion Which?, guaranteeing that they will continue to accept notes and coins as an alternative to digital payments.
Together, the supermarkets are responsible for almost 4,500 outlets in the UK, and have a combined grocery market share of more than 30%.
The Which? scheme has also been backed by leading retail associations that represent tens of thousands of shops across the country. The British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores and the British Independent Retailers Association are all encouraging their members to sign up. The Federation of Small Businesses is also promoting the scheme to members that want to maintain access to cash for their customers.
The initiative has also drawn heavyweight support from the Bank of England. Chief cashier Sarah John says: “The ability to use cash as a way to pay for goods and services, as well as for day to day budgeting, remains vitally important for many people. By signing up to this pledge, businesses are helping to ensure that everyone in the UK is able to use the form of payment that best meets their needs.”
Which? research earlier this year found that 34% of consumers reported being unable to pay with cash at least once when trying to buy something since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced.
The lobbying group is additionally calling on the Government to set out when legislation to protect access to cash will be introduced and provide greater clarity about its long term plans.
This should include putting the Financial Conduct Authority in charge of the cash system, says Which?.
Anabel Hoult, Which? Chief Executive says: “The government announced it would legislate to protect access to cash more than a year ago. Now it must set out when this will be introduced and explain its long-term plan to protect cash for as long as people need it.”
With fears for the fate of the technical infrastructure supporting cash payments in local communities, UK banks and regulators have rallied around a series of access to cash pilot programmes, such as shared banking hubs and retailer cashback, which are set to run across the UK over the next six months.
To support the effort, industry body UK Finance is setting up an Access to Cash Action Group which will develop industry proposals for preserving availability of cash payments in the longer term. The group is to be chaired by Natalie Ceeney, who is currently chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots Board. Other members will be drawn from financial institutions, Age UK, Toynbee Hall and others including the Post Office and Link.
“The Group will contribute to ensuring that access to cash needs are addressed both now and in the future,” says UK Finance. “Economic insights from the pilot solutions will feed into the design of possible models for future access to cash.”