Why cash will survive the rise of plastic

26/05/2009 - 00:00
A new report suggests that while some card schemes are trying to force us towards a cashless society, British idiosyncrasies and love of traditions will ultimately save us from a characterless, all-electronic future.

The report, commissioned by independent ATM operator Bank Machine, looks at the top 10 cash-dependent activities we can't – and won't – live without and ranks them accordingly. The following activities are the ones the British public that would miss something if they lived in a cashless society values most: 1. Street retailers (farmers markets/car boot sales/fruit and veg stalls) 2. Local newsagents 3. Local cafes (bacon butties/take-away teas) 4. Newspapers 5. Community fundraisers (cake sales/local fetes) 6. Fun fairs (ice-cream vans/balloon sellers etc) 7. Church and charity collection tins 8. Office whip rounds (birthdays/leaving presents) 9. Children's pocket money 10. Ability to tip (waiters/cab drivers) The report includes analysis by James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester. It argues that a society with exclusively electronic payments would cause activities like these to disappear from our lives, as the electronic payment methods would be too costly to install and not financially viable. Bank Machine's report also suggest that mobile and 'wave' payments, dubbed 'contactless', would hit human interaction hard. And there are other reasons that cash will never die, according to the report. The long-term psychological impact of recent financial scandals will mean that people continue to rely on the tangibility of the green stuff. In addition, there are five key factors that will encourage us all to continue our commitment to cash for years to come. • A maturing population's resistance to change for change's sake. • British attachment to individualism in general and our currency in particular • Concerns about a "surveillance society" • Retailer resistance • Authenticity of cash over electronic money. Ron Delnevo, Managing Director of Bank Machine, said: "Cash is here to stay because – despite dubious tactics used by the Card schemes to force us into electronic payment methods – the British public simply won't be told what to do. It is crucial that we look to the future and realise the real impact of simply accepting systems that we neither want, need or are able to afford."

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