All too easily: the banks ruthlessly pursue an agenda to keep us away from using cash, but it doesn't work for everyone
Slowly but surely, like a number 9 bus, we are on our way to a cashless society where plastic and payment apps are the boss. Move over the bank and build up the branches of society led by tellers with kind faces. Tatty bye.
Adios, free ATMs and free sharp £ 10 banknotes – with the large ATM operator Notemachine, who just announced that he could charge a little less than £ 1 for withdrawals at many of his 10,500 ATMs. And hello contactless payment, Apple Pay, Paypal, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Paym, Uncle Tom Cobley and so on.
So now, with a simple wave of a card – a glowing hot 99p black filter coffee at Pret a Manger. No more hassle in bags or handbags for a handbag, wallet or loose change – in the process that the line behind you makes, you swing like a Burmese python at the door.
Fine? In some ways, yes. Progress, convenience and all that. But are we being pushed too aggressively – in fact strongly armed – towards a world in which all our transactions are done via mobile phones or the many cards that we carry in our wallets and purses?
A world in which banks, payment providers, government officials and for that reason Uncle Tom Cobley (yes, he again) can see our releases as George Orwell & # 39; s Big Brother? And where retailers refuse to refuse money. Two theaters that I recently visited refused to take my shillings. & # 39; Card only, sir. & # 39; Or penalize us for using cash or checks.
The answer to this important question is a big fat & # 39; yes & # 39 ;. If we are not attentive and cannot control this merciless search for a society without cash, we will all be worse off. At the mercy of the banks and their relentless pursuit of profit. High streets are in danger or are being destroyed by the abandonment of the banks and their branches and ATMs – such as Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
Three hundred ATMs are scrapped every month. More and more often, free ATM machines were converted into rights. A thousand bank branches were cleared in the past year without a libel of libel from government ministers who are still in Brexit manure right up to their armpits.
The focal points of society, the elderly and low-income households in particular, are financially excluded – a result that has already happened in Sweden as a result of the relentless pursuit of a bankless society by the banking sector, and that the government now also brings itself to wonder whether it has all gone too far.
And just as worrying, for those of us who have embraced cashless payments and cashless banking in the world, millions of decent, hard-working people are terribly exposed to a toxic mix of increasing bank fraud, IT meltdowns (think TSB) and rather frightening financial isolation if something goes wrong.
Three hundred ATMs are scrapped every month. More and more often, free ATM machines were converted into rights. Above, stock image
I have experienced a dose of this and I don't like it. I stole my wallet somewhere in East London five days ago. It contained my debit card, credit card, driver's license, a mountain of loose change and a variety of gallery and cinema tickets.
Although both my bank and credit card provider canceled the stolen cards quickly, I was reassured that no one had emptied my account or used up my credit facility and said they would issue new ones, but now I am temporarily cashless.
No access to money, no plastic – and purely dependent on the big hearts of friends to see through me until my new cards arrive. I feel financially powerless and very vulnerable. The loss of my cards has also had unexpected consequences. Rail tickets booked online via the Trainline can only be accessed via a bank card and a reference number at a train station.
But when I called Trainline to ask what I could do to get my weekend tickets to Birmingham, I was told: & # 39; difficult. & # 39; The tickets cannot be converted to e-tickets, which can be accessed by telephone. And while Trainline was willing to cancel the original booking and re-issue new tickets, I would a) be charged for the privilege and b) could only do this if I had a card to pay for the new tickets. Arghhhh !!!
Not a long time ago, a collection of the great and good people comes to the conclusion that we must step back from the abyss of the brave new world without money to which the banks want to push us.
Last month, an authoritative report from Natalie Ceeney, former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service, showed that 17 percent of us & # 39; often & # 39; end up in situations where cash is the only option. Above, stock image
Last month, an authoritative report compiled by Natalie Ceeney, former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service, highlighted the dangers. According to her Access To Cash Review, two million people in this country depend on cash for their daily needs.
In addition, around 17 percent of us are & # 39; often & # 39; in situations where cash is the only option – for example, if a taxi driver only takes cash or if they live in a rural community where poor mobile reception offers other payment options than cash is almost impossible.
Last week I spoke extensively with Ceeney. Her opinion is simple: access to money must be viewed in the same way as our access to water and a postal system: a fundamental right. We cannot, she said, be bullied on a one-way street marked as & # 39; only card payment & # 39 ;. Spot on. She added: & # 39; We need proper regulations to ensure that everyone has access to cash in the future. We must get the government together with the regulators and banks.
& # 39; We cannot allow market forces to dictate only what happens. Otherwise, the most vulnerable in society will be left behind and even those of us who are not dependent on money will only discover how essential it is when it is lost. & # 39;
Ceeney's work seems to have left its mark. Last week the Bank of England said it was the relevant & # 39; stakeholders & # 39; would finish – bank representatives, treasury officials and the Financial Conduct Authority – to look at ways in which access to money can be retained & # 39; for those who want to use it & # 39; .
The Ceeney report contains a number of recommendations that stakeholders should chew on – not just to keep ATMs and bank branches open, but more & # 39; innovation & # 39; in providing cash. For example, cash by mail (the way many of us receive holiday pay) and more facilities for storing convenience stores.
Consumer group Which? told The Mail on Sunday that the government – urgently – must appoint a supervisor who is responsible for protecting our right to cash. His role would be to ensure that communities are not left bankless – or worse, cashless by removing the last cash machine in the city – and work closely with city councils who believe their community is calling for more access to cash.
But probably the most revealing comments were made by Sonali Parekh, head of policy at the Federation of Small Businesses.
According to her, cash should be easily accessible to everyone – businesses (especially independent street shopkeepers) and their customers.
& # 39; Cash & # 39 ;, she said, & # 39; remains a vital compensation for many people – especially the elderly, the disabled, and those who need to budget carefully for survival. & # 39; More to say, she said that if the banks win and turn the UK into a cashless society, they will have us where they have always wanted us – over a barrel.
Living in a society where the only means of payment is managed by them – allowing them to incur payment costs at will.
Where in the future someone who buys a 99p Pret a Manger black filter coffee, paid through their contactless card, can be hit with an additional 10p & payment processing costs & # 39 ;. Where all ATMs charge fees for withdrawals.
Cashless society? No, thank you.