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The Perils of Adopting an ‘All or Nothing’ Approach to Becoming a Completely Cashless Society

At the Innovate Finance conference on April 30, the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, spoke at length regarding the need for the UK to avoid missing the call of history.

Hammond spoke with great pride about the ambition which is driving British fintech companies to lead the world in this nascent sector. He also reassured delegates that the government has developed, “a comprehensive strategy to put rocket-boosters behind that ambition – and we are delivering.”

Just two days previously, however, the Chancellor had pre-emptively dampened the squib by reversing his decision to shelve 1p and 2p coins as a part of a push to make the UK a cashless society. His critics have argued that the U-turn is indicative of the kind of dithering that has come to characterise the Conservatives under Theresa May’s leadership.

Hammond spoke with great pride about the ambition which is driving British fintech companies to lead the world in this nascent sector.

Not so David Orme of IDEX Biometrics, who believes the move may have as wise as it was clumsy. Yesterday, IDEX’s senior vice president told TFT;

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David Orme

“The news that Philip Hammond has ditched plans to scrap 1p and 2p coins as part of plans to stop the UK going cashless, serves as a stark reminder that we cannot take an ‘all or nothing’ approach to becoming a completely cashless society. To ease the move towards cashless, more needs to be done in terms of raising awareness around the benefits of a cashless future, as well as making sure such benefits are accessible to all.

Disadvantaged groups are more likely to rely on cash and some, such as those who do not have a bank account, have little choice but to use cash for everything. In 2017, people in the UK made more than 13 billion cash payments. The choice seems clear: either ensure the continued availability of cash or make it easy for all members of society to go cashless.

The introduction of fingerprint biometric payment cards is just one innovation that will enable consumers to securely embrace cashless payments. This unique and ultimately secure payment solution is virtually impossible to replicate and could actually help to bridge the gap to financial inclusion as transactions will no longer be focused on what we know or can remember (PINs), but who we are. This will, therefore, remove the potential barriers that face those living with dementia or literacy challenges and put consumers at the forefront of payment innovation.”

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