In March 2019, the independent Access to Cash Review concluded that “It’s no longer good enough to see cash as just as a commercial issue. It needs to be treated as a core part of the UK’s infrastructure.” The decline in access to cash becomes particularly problematic when an estimated 2.2 million people – including the elderly, vulnerable and those in rural communities – are still reliant on cash.
In an attempt to guarantee the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come, British Chancellor Philip Hammond announced last 3 May 2019 that plans are to be set in place to secure the nation’s access to cash by establishing a task force of cooperative efforts. The government is looking at:
The announcement follows that made last spring of a Call for Evidence on Cash and Digital Payments in the New Economy, which would further the government’s understanding of the trends impacting the way people pay for goods and services. The responses received considered the importance of cash as a symbol of independence, an important budgeting tool and as a way that elderly or vulnerable people can access social opportunities. Its overall findings concluded that despite the decline of cash usage in recent years, it remains a dominant payment method in British society.
Not too long ago, consumer groups, lobbyists and organisations called on the Government to respond to the country’s reduced access to cash. With UK citizens eager to protect cash by voicing out their concerns, the Government were all ears and responded correspondingly. “Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services…but it’s also clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have choice over how they spend their money.” the Chancellor states.
Natalie Ceeney CBE, Chair of the Access to Cash review, carries the same sentiments, expressing how “if we sleepwalk into a cashless society, millions of people will be left behind.” Undoubtedly, building a sustainable cash infrastructure is necessary in our digital-transitioning world considering that it’s a payment method accessible to all.