Volumatic’s white paper and survey findings now a step closer following the Queen’s Speech

20 May 2022

Last week saw the annual State Opening of Parliament with the Queen’s Speech (this year delivered by Prince Charles) highlighting the priorities for the government and the new laws it wants to introduce in the year ahead.

Unsurprisingly, top of the agenda were measures to help the current cost of living crisis facing UK consumers right now, including the proposal of a new Financial Services and Markets Bill which stated the government’s intention to introduce a new law that protects consumer access to cash across the UK – something Volumatic, amongst other industry peers, have been campaigning for over recent years.

This new legislation means that banks will have to retain their high street branches and provide cash machines so that people can access both cash withdrawal and cash deposit facilities and should ensure that the country’s cash infrastructure is sustainable for the foreseeable future.

This news follows the announcement by the government back in October 2020 that suggested it would take steps to protect the future of cash and while it’s not immediately clear if the new Bill will cover everything initially promised as yet, it’s certainly welcome news to both businesses and consumers alike that new legislation to protect access to cash is on the way.

The importance of cash usage

With the increase in cash usage by consumers now becoming more prevalent since Covid restrictions were relaxed across the UK, businesses should also now be recognising the importance of cash in helping them make a post-pandemic recovery – as recommended by Volumatic in our ‘Consumers Demand Payment Choice’ white paper, published in late 2020.

Since the publication of our white paper, which also featured the expertise of industry experts from the Bank of England, Cash Essentials, Enryo and Vaultex, plus retailer The Co-op Food Group - all of whom offered their insights into building a resilient cash infrastructure for the UK - there have been a lot of further debates about the future of cash. What has emerged are clear findings, all of which featured in our white paper which highlight just how vital cash still is in 2022:  

  1. That consumers demand payment choice – while digital payments are increasing, cash is still the second most popular payment method and the majority of people in the UK use several different payment methods depending on what they are buying
  2. That access to cash is becoming harder for many people with the closure of local banks – almost 200 closures have already been announced in 2022, out of a remaining network of less than 7,000 – and in rural areas it is particularly difficult
  3. That a large proportion of the UK (1 in 5 people, according to a recent survey by ATM operator LINK) are reliant on cash and would struggle if we were to become a cashless society

These findings were more recently backed up during Volumatic’s Cash 2030 event at the end of February 2022, where a survey amongst leading retailers and industry professionals revealed that although retailers were willing to accept cash more readily these days, they still saw it as a hygiene risk, despite assurances from WHO that cash poses no greater risk of transmitting any virus than any other payment method.

And just a couple of months ago, the RSA published The Cash Census Report, which concluded that the UK is most definitely not ready to become a cashless society, and that more needs to be done to support businesses in being able to accept and process cash in an efficient and cost-effective way, such as using innovative cash-handling solutions like the Volumatic CounterCache intelligent (CCi), plus, of course, consumers in having easy access to cash.

Cash remains an important payment method for millions of people across the UK, particularly those in the elderly and vulnerable groups, who often largely rely on cash, and this new Bill shows the Government is committed to preserving it.

Although further details on the Bill will be made available when it is formally introduced, its intention was welcomed by the industry and retailers alike.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Cash Action Group, welcomed the announcement. “With this legislation, we can shift the conversation from whether we can protect cash to how we can best meet the needs of those who need it.”

Meanwhile, James Lowman, CEO of the Association of Convenience Stores said: “Cash is still an incredibly important way of paying for goods and managing money for millions of people, and convenience stores play an increasingly important role in being often the only provider of ATM services locally.”

Volumatic’s Sales & Marketing Director, Mike Severs added: “Over 10 million adults across the UK still rely on cash in their everyday lives. Our ongoing research and white paper recommended what the industry needs to do to help businesses to maintain cash use and provide access to cash for consumers and it’s great to see that the government are finally recognising the importance of this.”

He added: “Volumatic can help any businesses who want to accept cash with our industry-leading cash handling solutions, which can provide extra security, cost savings and processing efficiencies. We look forward to the positive changes we hope this Bill will bring to ensuring the future of cash and look forward to helping more businesses find a solution to their cash handling requirements.”

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