Like cash, only easier

“Consumers should be able to decide for themselves how they pay. For us, it is important to have a broad mix of options and that efficient methods for payment are available” – Burkhard Balz, Bundesbank, Germany.

2018 saw the transition towards a cashless society in the UK gather significant pace supported by a proliferation of new payment options.

However, the cashless challenge we face in 2019 is not a binary argument about ‘cash’ versus ‘cashless’ where one side will emerge a victor. The challenge is, as Balz states, to ensure the UK has a broad mix of efficient options for the consumer to decide how they pay for something (and, I will add, that are inclusive and accessible to all).

Consumer choice is crucial and, for those that want to dispense with notes and coins, a broad range of inclusive cashless payment options are vital if the UK is to become a truly cashless society.

But is possible to be cashless in the UK in 2019?

Well, after 17 weeks of a self imposed cashless experiment I am close to proving that it is entirely possible.

As each week passes I find easy and convenient solutions to the quickly diminishing number of cashless challenges I experience.

For example, during the past week I experienced just one near miss at the last remaining ‘minimum spend’ debit card machine in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The solution here was not ideal as instead of purchasing from a local pharmacy I visited the East of England CO-OP with the much more enlightened policy of accepting contactless payments for any amount – even a 49p bag of potatoes. Thankfully, a ‘minimum spend’ debit card payment policy is a rare sight and, I am sure, will become completely extinct in 2019.

As we enter 2019 there are just a few cashless solutions needed for me to get rid of cash and coins once and for all.

Also, with ApplePay perhaps I will be able to dispense with carrying a physical debit card in 2019 as well. Although there is a dependency here on retailers to not use the £30 contactless payment limit as a ‘lazy’ cap for ApplePay payments.

There are no New Year resolutions for me this year (no point) but I do have five Cashless predictions (or hopes) for 2019:

– Tesco finally removing their self imposed £30 ApplePay limit.

– The removal of the debit card ‘minimum spend’ stickers on POS machines.

– Cashless tip options in restaurants that I can be sure benefit the staff.

– Cashless solutions for charity donations.

– Cashless options from the last few predominantly ‘cash only’ retailers like dry cleaners, car wash and take aways.

Oh, and the end of needing a £1 coin to use a supermarket trolley.

It’s not a theoretical debate about the merits of ‘cash’ versus ‘contactless’ but a desire to ensure that the UK has a broad mix of efficient, inclusive and accessible options for the consumer to decide how they pay for something.

As an advocate of a planned and inclusive cashless society in the UK based on real consumer choice I will try and iron out some of the challenges along the way with my personal cashless challenge.

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