Without doubt, the pandemic has accelerated the trend toward a cashless society, with both credit and debit card usage soaring and “sorry, we don’t accept cash” becoming a well-versed refrain in shops, as fears increased that handling cash could accelerate the spread of the virus. The maximum contactless spend was increased from £30 to £45 on 1 April to facilitate this.
Recent data shows that 66% of Mastercard transactions in the UK are now contactless and 45% of people responding say that they have used cash less during the crisis1.
Predictions of the death of cash can’t solely be attributed to the pandemic, however. Debates encompassing a cashless society certainly pre-date lockdown, with trends such as online and mobile banking, the rise of contactless payments and the withdrawal of cash machines being features of modern society for a while.
However, it seems cash is still a necessity for 25 million people2. So, although cash usage is reducing, it will be vital to maintain access to cash for certain groups of society, including the elderly. A 100% cashless society assumes that every person has the means, technological know-how and ability to pay by card for every transaction, but we’re not there yet.
2Age UK, 2020
The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested.