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BSIA calls on retailers and local authorities to promote cash as “safe choice” for payment

22 July 2020

THE BRITISH Security Industry Association (BSIA) is calling on retailers in all sectors and local authorities across the UK to recognise, acknowledge and promote the use of cash as a safe choice of payment both during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

As the Trade Association that represents the UK’s Cash-in-Transit industry, the BSIA has produced a report entitled ‘Cash is a Safe Choice’, which is essentially a compendium of evidence-based research from organisations such as the British Retail Consortium, the World Health Organisation, Which?, the Association of Convenience Stores, UK Finance and members of the cash industry.

As members of the public gradually return to Shopping Centres and the hospitality arena, the report outlines that the current approach (ie that cash is to be avoided as a credible transactional tool) not only lacks credibility, but also takes away choice from the consumer, as well as posing a serious threat to the Cash-in-Transit industry and the recovery of the UK’s economy.

The report asserts that the UK still uses cash as a major method of transaction and also that, although there has been a decrease in cash transactions for a number of years, it’s still necessary for some and must remain a choice for everyone who wishes to access it.

In addition, the report states clearly that, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s little or no evidence that using cash can spread Coronavirus. The document highlights the work members of the industry are carrying out in order to keep cash in circulation and maintain its position as a safe payment choice.

Not ready to be ‘cashless’

Sarah Staff, head of SaferCash at the BSIA, said: “Over two million adults remain unbanked in Britain. Some of them by choice, others by access. An estimated 1.9 million of us rely on cash for nearly every transaction we make, while an estimated eight million of us would struggle in a cashless society. Our report entitled ‘Cash is a Safe Choice’ shows that we are not yet ready to be ‘cashless’ as many media reports are referencing. Indeed, will we ever be?”

Staff continued: “The public is being swayed with constant marketing and reminders to pay by card, ditch cash, shop online and keep things digital. How does this leave those communities who not only rely on cash, but the many who also use cash as an alternative payment? Taking away cash is taking away the choice of a valid transactional method. We’re calling on all retailers and local authorities to pull back from taking hard currency out of the equation and to put in place information that supports this.”

The BSIA’s report highlights the fact that ‘cash is...’:

*Secure: It minimises risk as digital accounts are vulnerable to cyber crime, fraud and power outages. It protects the privacy of the user and it’s resilient. During a crisis we trust real currency. Cash is a top recommended emergency item 

*Accessible: Back in March, the UK Government and Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised to create legislation to protect access to cash. Cash also keeps growing in importance as the demand increases globally both in absolute value and relative to GDP 

*Fee-free: There are no costs for consumers using cash. It’s pure tangible money.

*For everyone: History shows human beings have used tangible monetary systems since the Stone Age. Cash is democratic and inclusive, universal and a freedom of choice.

Body of evidence

Mike Reddington, CEO at the BSIA, observed: “The ‘Cash is a Safe Choice’ report clearly demonstrates that there’s still an appetite for the general public to use cash as an alternative method of payment, even during the COVID-19 crisis. With such a body of evidence that clearly contradicts the current misconceptions, we believe the death of cash is completely unfounded. It’s exaggerated and, more importantly, detrimental to a great many people and businesses which is, as we try to recover from the aftershocks of COVID-19, misleading and incredibly damaging to the cash industry and the economy as a whole.”

*The ‘Cash is a Safe Choice’ report is available to download from the BSIA’s website