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With the rise of cashless payments due to COVID, are the days of 'cash is king' over?

UK Hospitality

Once upon a time cash was king, however in recent years with online banking and card payments becoming more popular, cash payment has become a lot rarer.

Over the past few years cash has become something you only see in a card from your grandparents at Christmas, or when you’re paying a tradesman who suspiciously ‘only accepts cash’, and COVID-19 has only accelerated this move to a cashless society.

We’re looking at this social shift to a cashless world, and asking whether COVID has caused the end of cash culture forever.

Why Is Cash Dying Out?

In recent years, we’ve seen incredible developments in how we bank online. Many people simply have no need to use cash to pay for things now that we have mobile banking and card payments. 

Eftpos and mobile payments have made it so easy for us to go out with only a card or our phone and be able to pay for whatever we like. There’s no need to worry about misplacing your tenner, or not having enough cash to pay for something. 

With mobile payment, you always have access to funds quickly and easily and this new way of banking has made cash a secondary payment system for the modern technologically savvy generations.

This has become even more apparent with the millennial generation who have championed the cashless system. A recent Mercator Advisory Group’s CustomerMonitor Survey found that as many as 70% of millennials use their mobile phones to pay for goods and services. 

This change in attitude to cash was shifting prior to COVID, however there can be no doubt that the virus has sped up the move to a cashless world.

How Has COVID-19 Affected Cash Payments?

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way we pay, with many organisations refusing to take cash payments due to the risk of virus transmission.

In March, many businesses advised against the use of cash due to the risk of the virus spreading on surfaces. Whilst this was only a recommendation, many businesses including shops, coffee shops and other outlets have only been accepting card and mobile payments to minimise customer and employee contact.

Many consumers have decided to take this one step further and only use contactless payments to help minimise their risk of coronavirus. Contactless not only minimises the number of customers who come into contact with the EFTPOS machine, but also means that people can remain at an arm’s lengh the distance when paying for items and only need to touch their own card or mobile. This makes staying safe and adhering to the 1m social distancing rule a lot easier.

One other major change has been mobile payments and menu browsing that has allowed people to remain seated whilst they dine out. This change has meant that people have automatically been paying online, using the mobile payment solution attached to their phone. This has near-eliminated the use of cash and moved society forward in terms of technological advancement.

Is A Cashless System Better?

For the time being, whilst COVID-19 is still a significant threat, we can assume that a cashless system is the best way forward. It helps to lower the risk of transmission and minimises contact between people, which is of course a lot safer for society as a whole.

In the future, it is likely that cashless payments will remain stronger than cash, simply because they are easier and safer for the generations who are comfortable with doing everything online.

We are moving to a more technologically advanced world every day. For businesses who aren’t offering their customers flexible, mobile payment options during this time, it can be damaging. We believe that even cards may become redundant in the near future and mobile payments will take over as the next natural step to a more tech-integrated, cashless society.

To learn more about how to accelerate your business digitally and keep up with the shift to cashless payments, get in touch. Alternatively, you can stay up to date with the future of food service by reading our recent white paper.

Richard Billingsley
September 29, 2020

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