UK Government must protect the most vulnerable against cashless society

Vulnerable people risk being unable to access the money they need to pay for goods and services, unless the government acts to support the “fragile” cash system, the consumer group Which? has warned.

The coronavirus crisis has accelerated the adoption of contactless and other cashless transactions across the UK and led to sharp drops in ATM use as more people shop online or opt for what they perceive to be safer payment methods.

However, research by Which? found that many of those who had been unable to shop for themselves had used cash to reimburse friends and family who had stepped in to help.

A survey of more than 2,000 people carried out for the group found that one in five were helping someone else, either by managing their finances or shopping for food or essentials. Of these, 51% had been reimbursed in cash.

The research also found that one in 10 people had tried to pay a retailer in cash and been refused.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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