Businesses urged to keep accepting cash to protect vulnerable

Businesses should keep allowing people to use cash during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure the most vulnerable are able to buy the goods and services they need.

Cash is still used as the predominate payment method for many people, especially the elderly and low-income households. Possible moves by businesses to only accept card payments could severely impact those who need assistance the most at this time.

Recent studies showed 2.7 million consumers relied almost entirely on cash for their day-to-day expenditure, with cash particularly important to those aged over 54, who Age UK have found struggle more to adapt to new technologies. There are also 1.3 million adults (three per cent of the population) who do not have a bank account, meaning they rely almost entirely on cash as their only payment method.
Peter McNamara, Chief Executive of NoteMachine, whose ATM network provides around 20 per cent of consumer cash in the UK said:
“People are shopping for elderly and vulnerable neighbours, friends and families and a lot of these shopping trips will need to be made with cash.
“Even before Covid-19, many of society’s most vulnerable already had a heavy reliance on cash. Removing this payment method at such a critical time would be a devasting blow to many people. They need help to shop, not more blockages, and different forms of payment shouldn’t be discriminated against.
“It is absolutely essential that supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, take-aways and all other businesses continue to accept both cash and card payments, as another vital way we can work together to support the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which?, said:
“It’s understandable that some shops may ask customers for card only payments to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus, but we are concerned this will leave many vulnerable people unable to pay for the basics they need.
“Both the government and retailers need to find a way to ensure that the millions of people who rely on cash, and may not have a bank card, can still pay for essentials during this difficult time.”
Media enquiries: 
Sarah Gullo
WA Communications
07715 681 85
Note to editors: 
The International Currency Association stated earlier this month:
“There is no evidence that banknotes are more strongly contaminated than any other surface and the dominating opinion among medical experts is that the virus is not being transmitted by banknotes.”
Which? is a non-profit organisation working to make life simpler, fairer and safer for consumers during the coronavirus crisis. Which? is making a range of news, advice and guides available for free for anyone who needs it at:
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