Retailers are being urged to continue accepting cash payments during this time. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has denied that cash and, specifically, banknotes transmit COVID-19 (press release attached), as have a number of national central banks and leading scientific institutions.
Cash is still the predominant payment method for many people, especially the elderly and low-income households. Recent studies show 2.7 million consumers still rely on cash for their day-to-day expenditure, with cash particularly important to those aged over 54. Additionally, there are 1.3 million adults (3% of the population) who do not have a bank account, meaning they rely entirely on cash as their only payment method.
Whilst no BRC members are understood to be adopting this practice, recent reports of moves by businesses to only accept card payments will be a concern to vulnerable customers. Many of these people are currently self-isolating and rely on neighbours, friends and families to do their food shopping for them which needs to be done with cash.
Even before Covid-19, many of society’s most vulnerable already had a heavy reliance on cash. Removing this payment method at such a critical time would be a devasting blow to many people.