There is little doubt that the arrival of contactless payment alternatives to cash has been a significant contributary factor, not only the demise of the high street bank, but also the number of ATM’s available to the public.

This evolution has implications to all forms of retailing but in particular the traditional community wet led pub and bar where cash is still very much king.

One of the key issues is the banking of cash and stocking of change, there are now many small (and sometimes not quite so small) communities here in Scotland where there are no high street banking options available at all. Some banks have attempted to negate this issue by coming to an arrangement with the post office. That’s fine of course if you still have a post office in your area. Many of these have in fact closed and their services migrated to local convenience stores etc. However even these options are closing in quite large numbers often meaning the only means of banking cash and collecting change is by way of a mobile van or a car journey to another post office or bank.

I don’t know about you but, the thought of standing in a queue outside a mobile bank, in a public car park at a published pre-determined time and day, so that every petty criminal in the area knows exactly when and where you and you cash are going to be, with, possibly several thousand pounds, is not my idea of safe! Not sure that the banking industry has thought that one through too thoroughly however!

So, are we, as both business operators and consumers actually being forced (albeit covertly) down the road of electronic money? In my opinion the answer to that questions is; absolutely. Moreover as the ATM’s close cash will become more and more scares.

Like most issues in life however there are two sides to the story and on the positive side there are clear advantages to moving away from cash, the most obvious of course being not having to stand in the pouring rain outside a mobile bank. Electronic payment, whilst not entirely risk free is much more secure than ending up with a dodgy £50 note or two on a busy Friday night for example. And of course there are the advantages of cashflow and audit accountability (the latter of course being music to the treasury). Additionally, the cost of moving electronic cash is significantly lower than its paper equivalent.

There is also a substantial additional business opportunity insofar as your customers will be more pre-disposed to spending their electronic cash rather than paper.

So is this a rant, no! it's an observation, the trend from paper to cash is a form of evolution, those business that can't or wont evolve will find trading conditions become incrementally even more challenging than they already are.

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