Is cash a thing of the past

Nicholas Hesketh our consultant managing the role
In June 2019, Huw van Steenis - Group Managing Director at UBS and a credible figure in the banking and finance world, chaired the Future of Finance Report, conducted on behalf of the Governor of the Bank of England to review the UK’s financial system and what this meant for the Bank’s agenda over the coming decade. In this report, one of Huw van’s recommendations for the bank was:

To enhance the payments system for the digital age as this is a force shaping the economy as we know it. "

In the Fintech boom, companies and cloud based systems are becoming ever more respected in the banking & capital markets space - you don’t have to look too far to see a new digital payment or trading app popping up offering even quicker and easier payment transfers, online banking and currency converting.

A major switch in how the public perceive technology is something that forced the hand of even the ever cautious consumer, long gone are the days of apps or cloud based systems being perceived as risky when uploading your most important information, including your banking details. The now slick and smooth process of setting up a new bank account via an app like Monzo, or setting up a new staggered payment process via Klarna can be done within minutes.

In a digital age, cash in its conventional sense seemingly inhibits the consumer and some believe it becomes a problem that they never knew they had, as loose change and heavy pockets are an inconvenience we don’t have to live with. Huw van discovered that in Sweden, cash payments had fallen by 80% over the past decade and experts believe that the UK is only four to six years behind.

Ten years ago cash was used for six out of ten payments and experts believe that this will inevitably drop to one in ten payments in ten years’ time, as you can imagine cash has been taken over by debit cards and contactless technology that is only bound to increase over time.

As of 2018, cash accounted for 28% of payment methods used, this is down from 60% in 2008, so it is obvious to see the use of cash is on the decline heading towards the experts predictions of 9% by 2028, but has Covid-19 sped things up pushing us five to ten years ahead of schedule in reducing the use of cash?

Banks and retailers have been pushing the use of contactless payments and online services for hygiene reasons and as shops started to close, the UK cash usage halved within days. Reports also show that during lockdown ATM transactions were down by 60%, a rapid drop compared to the year on year decline of roughly 6% - 10%. This all happened despite the World Health Organisation never actually instructing people to avoid cash during the pandemic.

In some cases retailers have been refusing to take cash, I know this from personal experience, maybe you have experienced this too? So what chance does cash have to survive?

Over the past few years with the emergence of the Fintech space in London, we began growing our offering for clients of this type. We recognise the need to be flexible and dynamic to match the world of Fintech and are proud to support such disruptive businesses. With our financial services expertise and tenure, we've found ourselves to be excellent commercial partners and providers for Fintech firms that are both in a period of rapid growth and those that have made their mark on the market. View our latest roles here. 

11/11/20
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