John Lewis, Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lloyds Pharmacy and Waitrose have all signed up to a new cash acceptance pledge committing to continued acceptance of cash payments.
The campaign is being led by consumer watchdog Which?, who has invited all UK retailers to also make a public commitment to continue accepting physical coins and notes in stores.
It has been designed to ensure that the millions of UK citizens who still rely on physical cash are not left behind by the dramatic shift to digital payments brought about by the pandemic.
Business organisations including the British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores, the British Independent Retailers Association, the Federation of Small Businesses have also announced their support for the scheme, and are encouraging their members to sign up.
“Our cash-friendly pledge will reassure consumers who rely on cash that they won’t be left behind as we make the transition to digital payments,” Which? chief executive Anabel Hoult said.
“We’re asking retailers to sign up to the pledge because the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the decline of cash usage – threatening the whole infrastructure that ensures millions of people who aren’t yet ready to make the switch to digital payments can access and spend their own money.
“The Government announced it would legislate to protect access to cash more than a year ago. Now it must set out when this will be introduced and explain its long-term plan to protect cash for as long as people need it.”
It is the latest in a string of initiatives designed to protect the estimated 10 million people who still rely on cash, largely made up of elderly and low-income citizens who may not have access to bank accounts.
Recent research from merchantadviceservice.com, suggested that over half of UK businesses would like to see cash payments removed entirely from their day-to-day trading, laying bare the scale of the shift away from physical money.
Free-to-use cash machines are also disappearing from the UK, providing further hurdles for those who rely on physical currency, seeing 10,000 disappear over the past two years.
To address this issue, a new “click & collect cash” trial was launched in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent earlier this year.
This experimental new service will allow customers to see which local shops have cash available and then pre-order it for pickup via an app.
They will then be able to collect the cash free of charge without any obligation to make a purchase.