Nicky Severn from Loomis UK ( discusses the importance of cash in today’s society and how those in the hospitality sector can best manage this invaluable payment tool.

For a while now, experts have been predicting the death of cash and as contactless cards, mobile payment platforms and other digital payment options proliferate, the need to carry cash has, for many, reduced. And yet, we must be aware of the dangers of sleepwalking into a cashless sociecty.

Cash is still incredibly important. It provides inclusivity and accessibility for many. For example, there are many people who are less comfortable with technology and who are reluctant to launch their full payment ability into digital ’cyber space’. There are those who live in rural communities with poor digital connection and there are those with challenging financial situations, who may not be able or willing to have a bank account. According to Bank of England there are still over 1 million people inthe UK who are ’unbanked’ leaving them totally reliant on cash. What’s more, in the light of the recent cost of living crisis, there’s whole new swathe of people who have found that cash is the best way to budget effectively in challenging times. Paying digitially can often mean we are tempted to spend above and beyond our preferred limits – with cash you can’t go over budget and that’s why ideas such as ’envelope cash stuffing’ have become a social media phenomena!

Importantly too, we should remember that there are individuals who are reluctant to spend digitially due to their preference for privacy. Some do not like the possiblity of ’big brother’ traking our spending habits and the potential control this gives card companies over our daily lives.

With all these factors in mind, it is obvious that there are many people for whom cash is their preferreed method of payment and many others who like to use it combination with digital transactions.

For those in the hospitality industry therefore, refusing to accept cash could prove to be extremely damaging. In the vast majority of scenarios, providng customers with the flexibility and payment choice is the optimal solution – in fact many people consider and expect the right to choose how they pay as a basic human right.

Alongside the importance of providing customer choice, there is another reason why the acceptance of cash remains important. Imagine the scenario – a cyber attack, natural disasters or other significant events that knock out internet connections, digital banking and payment systems. If there were no physical alternative to digital payment, the whole payment eco-system would be left high and dry!

It is for a combination of the reasons above that the UK government is keeping a close eye on protecting cash and an independent Access to Cash Review was established in 2018. While not advocating “a view on the merits of a cashless society”, the Review highlighted the risks to millions of people of such a situation and called on Government, regulators and financial services to work together to keep cash viable for the foreseeable future.

In the 2020 Budget, the UK Government made a commitment to legislating to protect access to cash and there have been a number other measures taken and action groups established to do so.

The dangers of leaning too far into the cashless arena have already been demonstrated. Take Norway for instance, it is on the verge of being a cashless society but now the Norwegian government is applying the brakes, with proposals planned to force businesses to accept cash. Why? Not everyone is comfortable with digital solutions and there have been issues with payment systems going down in recent years. One such event happened the day before Norway’s constitution day in 2022 and caused chaos for consumers stocking up on champagne, beer and food for the big day. Consumers were forced to use cash where possible or miss out and the government said the experience “showed us that the ability to pay with cash must be preserved.”

So all that being said, what is the role of Loomis in helping to keep cash alive?

In an environment where bank branches are closing at a steady rate, Loomis is proud to provide an alternative way for transactional businesses in sectors such as hospitaity to deal with the cash coming into their businesses. From smart safes and cash collection, to cash processing services and coin and note delivery, Loomis UK supports businesses throughout the UK by providing safe, secure and effective solutions to cash management. Here at Loomis, we firmly believe that it’s still vital to keep the cash flowing and we are proud to help businessses do so.

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