[Dave Birch] Got into yet another discussion about cash yesterday, generally getting upset about someone telling me that cash is best form of payment and that electronic alternatives are worse. My point was that just because people think that cash is better doesn’t mean that it actually is. In fact, it demonstrably isn’t.

When it comes to making transactions safely, people feel more protected when using cash than any other form of payment The statistics revealed that 48 per cent of people felt most protected when using cash, compared to 37 per cent when using a credit or debit card, 10 per cent when using contactless cards and only four per cent when using contactless mobile payments.

[From Lack of appetite for tap-and-go bank cards due to fraud concerns | This is Money]

This, if I might say so, is a reflection of the British education system. Who on Earth thinks that cash gives better protection than a credit card? When I use a credit card in a transaction I am completely protected. Don’t these people read the papers? The people who pay cash for their holidays are the people who lose everything when the tour operator goes bust. I need their names and address in connection with my new real estate in Florida venture. I was thinking about this when I was reading Karen Webster’s characteristically well-written piece on her expedition to Washington.

I also touched on cash in my remarks, and the notion that as much as people may want it to disappear, and that the government shouldn’t be one of those parties. Cash has been around for thousands of years because it is useful and valued by consumers and merchants and will continue to grow.

[From Commentary – Emerging Payments Goes To Washington | PYMNTS.com]

Well, Karen and I are definitely on opposite sides of this fence. I think it should be explicit government policy to reduce the amount of cash in circulation. But what I specifically want to disagree with Karen about is her comment on the role of cash with respect to the unbanked.

Plus, cash remains a valuable payment method to the unbanked and underserved who like and value physical currency over digital forms, at least today.

[From Commentary – Emerging Payments Goes To Washington | PYMNTS.com]

I don’t have any US figures to hand, but in the UK families who use cash are around hundreds of pounds per annum worse off than families who don’t. The reasons are multiple: the cost of cash acquisition, the inability to pay utilities through direct debit, exclusion from online deals, theft and loss. There’s something unfair about this. People who choose to exist in a cash economy to avoid taxes (e.g., gangsters) are cross-subsidised by the rest of us. People who have no choice but to exist in a cash economy are not cross-subsidised at all.

The alternative to cash, for the unbanked and underbanked, is prepaid. I think the government should be working to introduce more competition into the prepaid space (to reduce costs) and stimulating innovation in the variety of prepaid instruments available in the mass market. I simply do not agree that cash is a better option either as a store of value or as a medium of exchange.

A grandfather who fell outside a bank and saw his £1,000 in cash blow away in the wind was amazed when strangers returned almost every penny. Barry Eastwood, 54, had left the Abbey Santander branch in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, after withdrawing the money for his car insurance.

[From Grandfather watched £1,000 blow away after falling is stunned as strangers return almost every penny | Mail Online]

Who pays their car insurance in cash? These people are a menace. Perhaps it’s something to do with British OAPs, but you see stories like this in the papers here all the time.

Police in Essex have begun a theft inquiry after a man left £80,000 on the roof of his car then drove off. A force spokesman said the man had put the cash on top of his car early on 18 November in Westcliff-on-Sea but had then forgotten about it until later.

[From BBC News – Man leaves £80,000 on top of car then drives off]

I’ve forgotten my sunglasses and driven off and lost them before now, but I’m damn sure that I wouldn’t forget the eighty grand on the roof of my car. Maybe he was off to score some black market ALZ113. 

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers


  1. You equate cash with criminality but neglect to say that bank-credit is created by fraud, deception, and secrecy on an unimaginaby large scale, which by leverage and interest, has damaged our society far more than abuse of cash every could.

  2. “Don’t these people read the papers?” – unfortunately they do.
    However it’ll have been a long time since they read an article on how secure alternatives to cash are. The payments industry has some way to go in educating its users on its products and the security benefits.

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