You may have seen several newspapers run stories recently about how some retailers are no longer accepting cash for goods. Perhaps you have experienced it yourself? A study showed that physical currency changes hands 55 times a week on average when things are ‘normal’. So, although the WHO has made no announcement about avoiding cash, a move to contactless payment has largely been made around a perceived risk of contamination.
The message at True Food has also been, “Please use a debit card, contactless preferably, if you can”, even though it is likely cash is changing hands less frequently during this pandemic. And we have seen a dramatic drop in cash payments in the shop – some days it is less than £10.
So why have we continued to accept cash at all? There are many reasons people may need to use cash, and what is important for us as a community co-op is to remain accessible to everyone who wants to shop with us. Those who are shielding may be asking friends or neighbours to shop for them, and perhaps don’t use internet banking, so need to give cash to their helpers. Those on very low incomes or benefits, and workers in the gig economy who have no fixed income to rely on, often withdraw the money they have and pay their bills in cash as a way to manage their budget and avoid banking fees. Using cash is also the only answer for those who are ‘unbanked’, meaning they have no bank account at all for whatever reason. Perhaps it isn’t widely known that anyone without legal immigrant status in the UK is simply not allowed to open a bank account. It is also extremely difficult to open a bank account without a fixed address.
Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list of reasons why someone may need to use cash, but what is important is to be as inclusive as we can. By continuing to take cash from those who need to use it means we can provide a service to everyone in our community, especially in difficult times.