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Mastercard UK will pay shops to distribute cash

Categories : Cash is efficient, Cash is universal, Costs of cash versus costs of electronic payment instruments
September 25, 2019
Tags : Cash, Consumers, Credit card, Retailers
A surprising move for a company which is better known for waging a war on cash, Mastercard will now pay shops to dispense it to customers.
Guillaume Lepecq

Mastercard will pay shops to dispense cash to customers. From April 2020, local shops and businesses will earn a fee of 12 pence every time customers request cashback from the till in association with a purchase on a MasterCard debit card.

The initiative is welcomed by consumer association Which?, at a time when access to cash in the UK is threatened by bank and ATM closures. Which? has revealed that a third of all bank and building society branches were closed down in the past five years. The UK has also seen a dramatic drop in the number of ATMs – from over 70,000 units in 2015 to 62,000 in 2018  – prompting consumer groups, lobbyists and organisations to take action. LINK, the UK’s largest ATM network, has announced that it will directly commission free-to-use ATMs in communities with poor access to cash.

Source: iStock

Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard in the UK, Ireland, Nordics and Baltics comments: “By leading this new cash back initiative we aim to encourage more shops to offer their customers the option of cash back at the point of sale. This isn’t a replacement for ATMs, but if we can add to the number of outlets where people can access cash, especially in areas without an ATM, it will be a valuable addition to the community for both consumers and local businesses.”


Why is Mastercard promoting access to cash ?

This may seem like a surprising move for a company which is better known for waging a war on cash.

But John Detrixhe from Quartz highlights several reasons why Mastercard is taking this initiative :

According to Ron Delnevo, executive director of ATMIA, if consumers get their cash from a shop instead of an ATM, this could increase the profit pressure on the UK’s ATM network, which is already shrinking.