A new study has revealed consumer attitudes to cash as British businesses brace for the post-Covid “new normal”.
Non-essential retailers and hospitality businesses will reopen following the coronavirus lockdown on the 4th July. According to the study over 75 per cent of consumers believe using cash leaves them vulnerable to germs and infection and over 60 per cent would not leave a tip if they couldn’t do so using cash
ATM locations have already started reopening as a means of giving access to cash, though this latest study suggests that a cashless alternative will be preferred by the majority of the population.
Speaking about the study they commissioned, Nigel Frith, senior financial analyst at AskTraders.com, said: “It’s clear that a move to a cashless society is on the cards, as consumers have been encouraged to use cashless payments during the pandemic.
“The net gains of that move could be positive; the ease of digital payments combined with the rise in challenger banks and payment-enabled devices mean it’s a more accessible payment method than ever before. Yet the impact on those in business cannot be ignored.
“The growing interest in cryptocurrency is also something for business owners to consider. The ability for customers to be able to pay through digital and contactless formats will be an important consideration for businesses in the coming months and years.”
The study also revealed that one in four consumers has been short changed by at least £1 in the past 12 months – equating to £13 million in lost cash through incorrect calculations that would be saved in a cashless society.
Clare Bailey, independent retail analyst, suggests there are broader benefits to going cashless from which those in the retail sector can benefit:
“Cashless society is something we’ve been nudging toward for some time, but a lot of retailers have previously assumed that taking card payments is more expensive. But what they weren’t considering is the cost of using cash; the cost of someone having to cash up the till, get the money to the bank, keep a supply of change, plus the risks around taking the physical cash to the bank – all of these things are a major headache, and represent the true cost of cash in business.
“In these ways, cash actually leaves retailers more vulnerable and incurs costs. There’s no reason why all independent retailers shouldn’t take all forms of contactless payment.
“If we think of it another way, the members of society who want to stick with cash, typically, tend to be a bit older, and they are actually more vulnerable themselves, so it may be that the cashless effects of the pandemic will change the paradigm around their attitude to cash.
“We can expect consumers to be much more mindful of their own safety even after lockdown is lifted so this insight into the worries of consumers around using cash is important.”
The preferred method of cashless payment according to the study is still bank cards, though a growing number of consumers are using mobile phones and smart watches.