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Thursday, 11 April 2019 10:53

Our society isn't ready or equipped to be cashless

Contactless payments are all the rage these days - people paying by cold hard cash for goods has halved in a decade, with many people opting to use contactless cards or pay by phone.

Notes and coins make up only three in every ten transactions these days.

It's not hard to see the appeal. It doesn't matter if you haven't got change, nor does it matter if you can't find your bank card, people can just pick up their mobile phone, and they're away. The convenience and ease is a big lure.

On paper, it's a fantastic thing. We live in hectic times, and anything that we can lay our hands on that will make life easier is undoubtedly a good thing. But there are two sides to the 'contactless society' scenario.

First and foremost there are issues regarding people living in the countryside. There are still people living in parts of Britain that haven't got super-fast broadband and are still having to cope with dismal internet speeds because of the rural locality of where they live. So, how can we expect people to be thrust into a society where there is no cash when we can't even get the basics right in terms of internet speeds? People in rural areas would be the first to suffer, as would the elderly who don't know anything other than dealing with notes and coins. We're talking about excluding millions of people by going cashless - we're not sure if society or the technology is there just yet.

We also need to assess the impact that a cashless society would have on the financially vulnerable. We're well aware of the impact credit cards can have on people prone to debt; because they don't physically see the cash they are spending, they spend far more than what they have, and that's how they end up in a financial spiral. This would be the same if the country went cashless. The ease of being able to pay for goods on a mobile phone could create a lacklustre mentality when it comes to finances and could lead to people getting entirely out of touch with what they're spending.

There has also been a rise in fraud cases - and you guessed it, this is directly related to contactless cards. Contactless cards are being blamed for a near 25 per cent rise in fraud crimes reported in the latter part of last year. So there are lots to discuss before it gets properly rolled out.

In conclusion, we don't think we're ready and prepared for a completely cashless society...yet.

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