Going cashless: The controversial trend gaining popularity

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Going cashless eliminates the faff of counting the float and the risky run to the bank. Not to mention, it cuts costs and gets more customers served. But as with anything in business, it's never quite that simple. 

Bruce Gray probably wasn’t expecting to be labelled with accusations of ‘anti-community hipsterism’ when he announced his business would no longer accept cash.

But with online culture as it is, everything is dialled to 11. And business decisions now often carry a social weight. The accusation came on an interesting Twitter thread about going cashless. Gray is the MD of Small Bar (a two-venue drinking establishment) and Left Handed Giant, a craft brewer based in Bristol.

At midday 8 October, Small Bar moved to only accepting payments via PDQ terminals. And according to Gray, the move was inspired by conversations with staff. This was echoed by Small Bar’s operations director Jack Granger.

“The main reason for our decision to streamline our payment process is to create a better environment for our staff; making transactions at the bar quicker and easier, and reducing risks created by holding larger amounts of cash on site and transporting them to the bank,” said Granger.

This move to cashless, one of the Twitter commentariat argued, was against the communal ethos of the British pub. “Not everyone has access to chip and pin or contactless,” they wrote. “You've just made a pub unattainable.”

It’s an allegation that Small Bar is sensitive to. “Our intention is not to exclude particular people or sections of society,” said Granger. “As part of the move, we will always maintain a small float at the bar to ensure that we can still work with people who are unable to access a bank card.”

Gray added that the bar had based the decision to move to cash free on what they think is best for the business and its staff. “It is by no means a suggestion that all businesses should follow suit in order to create a cash-free society," added Gray.

The Small Bar example illustrates just how emotive the issue of going cashless is. It’s often derided as virtue signalling or blinkered bourgie hipsterism. But the benefits of card-only, especially in crowded retail environments, are genuine.

Recently, professional rugby outfit Cardiff Blues announced that its iconic home of Cardiff Arms Park will become a predominantly cashless facility to enhance customer experience and improve security.

All public bars, the car park and the Cardiff Blues shop are now entirely cashless. The club said it will support those with cash on match-days through cash exchange points where redeemable vouchers can be purchased.

But clearly, according to Cardiff Blues general manager Rhys Blumberg, any inconvenience is outweighed by the benefits. "Going cashless at the Arms Park will not only cut our associated costs as a company, which is of benefit to the product on the pitch, but will be more secure and enhance the customer experience.

"All the data shows electronic transactions are substantially quicker than cash, so it will be a much more efficient process with a reduction on queue times at the Arms Park.”

For Small Bar’s Gray, the cash-free transition also mitigates a security risk. Managers no longer need to run the gauntlet to the bank to pay in weekly takings and receive change to restock the float.

“Further to this from a more commercial perspective," said Gray, "we are charged by the bank every time we pay cash in, and charged by the bank every time we convert notes to change.” The tiresome, monotonous task of coin counting is also eliminated, sparing precious staff hours.

Not all the social media reactions to the cashless news were negative. As another Twitter user observed, “In Sweden only 2% of transactions are cash. Physical money is slowly becoming too expensive to produce against the value of the money itself.”

About Francois Badenhorst

Francois

I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter. 

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11th Oct 2018 09:46

Interesting article. There are a lot of business and younger people that do not use cash. However those that do use cash use it more and with the advent of MTD, some business will use it even more. The mitigation of "the bank run" and "bank charges" for cash is only replaced by fraud and hacking of personal details. I think whatever currency system is used there will always be an element of theft in one way shape or form, the sophistication level just changes.

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11th Oct 2018 10:02

Anyone else been dumped with an incomplete records accounts job where the proprietor used the contactless card on his business account for every single trivial transaction, largely non business. Page after page of bank statements with masses of small transactions, big accounts bill and hideous bank charges!
It is too easy, he said I don't need to record the transactions because they are all on the bank statements...
I said quite a lot!

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11th Oct 2018 10:25

Yep. I've got a few like that. Although I'm sure we would all like to receive a perfect set of books just how we would like them, isn't it our job to create something from whatever the client gives us. My view is as long as the information is there it doesn't matter what format it's in. Gets the brainbox working a bit more.

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11th Oct 2018 10:36

Not hard to empathise with that!
However, I use a Curve card much in the same way and it posts everything directly into accounting software. I use it for nearly every transaction.

You just connect it to whatever business or personal card you have -so no changing banks or anything like that. And it's free.

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to rsergeant
11th Oct 2018 11:03

I've been looking at the Curve card and am contemplating giving it a trial.

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11th Oct 2018 10:08

Transactions for the customer thbough are slower not quicker if you use touch and pay (I always use cash in supermarkets and petrol statioins and other shops). Touch and pay does not show in your bank account for a few days so makes it harder to keep a track of your money (never mind the privacy rights issues of using cards al the time - although I realise as a "use it or lose it2 cash person I am probably not in company with many others on these issues)

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11th Oct 2018 10:59

When I'm on the run from the filth, I always use cash. Makes sense.

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to Red Leader
11th Oct 2018 12:10

I carry a gun for exactly the same purpose. Helps keep the rozzers of my back, and works much like a cash card in corner shops.

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12th Oct 2018 11:16

Not snobbery just playing social media for clicks to try and be controversial.

A tactic by "trendy" operators who wear checky shirts, have grizzly beards, and full body tattoo's by age of 20.

I do a lot of work in leisure where cash used to be main source of payment. 5 years ago my clients would receive 80% cash 20% card now that has reversed to 80% on card now.

That is a natural progression and has not been forced.

The cash is expensive is not that good an argument, as cards are not free, for small transactions for coffees etc the vendor can still get charged a fixed fee for debit card transactions so not cheaper really just more convenient.

Anyone who feels the need to announce they do not accept cash are just doing it for shock horror on social media to raise their profile.

If they just traded they would probably take very little cash, any cash they do take can be used to pay wages or kitchen sundry purchases without it been an issue, it just doesn't get the clicks on facebook.

I now see it where companies refuse to accept cheques and only can be paid by bank transfer, cheques are not ideal but better than not been paid at all.

I have received 1 cheque in last 12 months but payment is a payment why would you feel the need to announce "you dont do cheques" when hardly anyone uses them anyway.

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to Glennzy
12th Oct 2018 11:51

You've only got to go into the coffee houses to see how things are changing.

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to johnjenkins
12th Oct 2018 12:42

Why rent an office when you can just hang out in a coffee shop with WIFI.

Be interesting to see what happen if they made you your coffee and you said "ooops sorry I dont have a card on me, only cash"

Refuse the cash?

Could also be a way for staff to pinch from you by accepting cash that is not recorded.

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By slarti
15th Oct 2018 13:09

At least the Bristol bars didn't try to say it was for the customer, unlike Cardiff's phony "and enhance the customer experience"

Having to use a card often does not enhance my experience and makes it too easy to overspend, when alcohol is involved, whereas cash, when it is gone you know you have overspent.

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