There’s only one winner from a cashless society, and it ain’t small businesses

The other day, after a workout, I went to buy a coffee. Nothing strange or bizarre about that everyday occurrence you’d think. Until it came to paying

There’s only one winner from a cashless society

The other day, after a workout, I went to buy a coffee. Nothing strange or bizarre about that everyday occurrence you’d think. Until it came to paying. I handed over a £20 note to be told by the server that they don’t take cash, only card payments.

I was absolutely astounded. I didn’t have any cards with me, I’d just left the gym, but I did have score in my pocket. The last time I checked that was still legal tender and would allow me to buy goods to the value or less of my note. Not in this shop. If it wasn’t a bit of plastic, then my custom was no good. I even offered to leave them the twenty quid and come back with a card, but that wasn’t good enough either.

As you can imagine I won’t be going back there!

Now this wasn’t some huge, multi-national high street coffee shop chain, but an independent business. And a short sighted one at that. One that is discriminating against a portion of society that still want to pay with cash, and one that’s happy to pay the charges being levied on small firms.

In 2023 there were more than 23.5 billion transactions made on debit card and 139 million on credit card. The average debit card spend was £33.30 as of March 2023 and £348 on credit card in January 2024, but there’s a growing number of smaller purchases that are being made by card – sometimes for a few pence for all sorts of things, including as I found out, a cuppa.

Each time one of these payments is made the business gets charged fees. According to campaign Axe the Card Tax the cost of processing a card payment has increased by 600 percent in nearly a decade. For each card payment businesses pay four fees that can add up to 2.5 percent of the value of the transaction, based on GoCardless research.

For a bit of context, popping into the corner shop for a 90p pint of milk and paying by card will cost the store owner about 8p in fees. This is why, apart from my friends in the coffee shop, more and more small businesses – particularly hospitality and independent retail are encouraging their customers to pay in cash.

After all, the money is better in the pockets of the business owner, and their staff, than the only winners of a cashless society – the banks and other financial institutions that will profit from the death of notes and coins.

As cash becomes less available, with bank branches closing all the time and cash machines slowly disappearing from high streets, these crooks in suits are tightening their stranglehold on small firms who are just trying to make an honest buck.

Add to the equation that since Brexit – yep, that again – there is no longer a cap on the amount that banks can charge firms for processing debit and credit card payments, so they can skyrocket without any consequences.

Of course, with 99.9 percent of UK businesses being classed as small, the greedy banks could find themselves without a decent number of customers if these fees push small firms over the edge.
In fact, I’d put money on it…and , yes, it would definitely be a cash bet!

Charlie Mullins
Charlie Mullins

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