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Good news if you like using cash; THOUGHT of the day.

Byline: Ian Handford

HAVING failed to persuade UK banks and building society chief executives to delay the pace of branch closures, which for years have been occurring every month, it is surprising our Government remains so supportive to those that still prefer using cash.

With its pleas ignored and legislation seemingly sadly inappropriate against private companies, even the Covid pandemic is making life extra difficult for cash transactions.

Government has also been unable to stop the ever-reducing number of ATMs (cash machines) disappearing from high streets and even banks or building society premises themselves.

But with civil servants suggesting cash ought to remain an option, advocates of a 'cashless society' may yet lose their battle.

Having adopted the idea that retailers should have an opportunity to widen their in-store services by offering 'free cashback' facilities via a 'click and collect cash' scheme, the Government must have noted the success of the 'community access to cash' pilot scheme in Italy and Switzerland.

It allows any customer to collect cash (within 15 minutes) or, if an order is made, delivery of cash with the order to a home address.

The idea of extending in-store banking services is now popular as it is not dependent upon an in-store order having to be made.

The service is offered by some 2,000 food takeaway shops, restaurants and independent retailers, all of which now provide cash as required (or delivered) as part of a service operated by the Sonect Company. Having championed retention of cash for more than ten years, you can imagine my joy on learning Government confirm its commitment to protect "access to cash for as long as people may wish", which has already seen Burslem Town Council decide to allow 'access to cash' pilot schemes to be trialled throughout Staffordshire, along the lines of the Sonect Company scheme.

Retailers will be allowed to operate bank services, including 'click and collect cash', via the initial trial schemes, which, if successful, will then be rolled out across the UK.

More good news came on learning that 'bank hubs' - sharing of bank services at a single premises - are back on the agenda and also about to be trialled. An idea highlighted years ago, it seems the main high street banks are at last going to finance eight separate pilot schemes in an effort to stem the tide of losing existing clients when a branch closes.

Finally, how interesting it was to learn the Bank of England admit they seem to have lost PS8 billion of bank notes and cash in general circulation, naming it "a cash paradox".

They seem to believe much of the missing cash has been invested or stored 'offshore' by the very rich, although in my view it's far more likely to be 'stored under the bed' (as our parents would have remarked).

Throughout his life, my father never trusted banks and never had a bank account as, like thousands of that generation, he preferred keeping his cash at home available for use as and when required, even though not earning interest.

With the BoE confirming it will have to print new runs of bank notes for at least the next ten months so that Britain does not run out of cash, all spells good news for those of us who enjoy using cash.

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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Ian Handford
Publication:The Plymouth Herald (Plymouth, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2021
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