The British Government has announced that it will protect the future of cash to make sure the proliferation of digital currency doesn’t affect portions of the population who rely on physical money every day.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said there’s going to be a new group to tackle the issue, and that it will be chaired by the treasury and will include regulators and the Bank of England. It will set strategies, facilitate nationwide access and make sure cash is available for those who need it.
Hammond will announce the new cash plan during the Verdict of the Pyx ceremony, a coin-checking custom that goes back to the 12th century, and takes place in London. Hammond will also mention that there won’t be any changes to existing currency, and that all current cash and coins will stay in circulation.
The plan to safeguard the use of cash will complement the continued use of digital payment methods, even as those methods continue to change the way people pay and use money.
“Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services. But it’s also clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have choice over how they spend their money,” Hammond said. “I’m also setting up a group which brings together the Treasury, Bank of England and the regulators to safeguard the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come.”
Natalie Ceeney CBE, chair of the Access to Cash, stressed the importance of protecting the use of cash.
“Cash use is falling rapidly, but digital payments don’t yet work for everyone. We need to safeguard the use of cash for those who need it, and at the same time work hard to ensure that everyone can participate in the digital economy,” Ceeney said.“If we sleepwalk into a cashless society, millions of people will be left behind. I’m delighted to see the Government taking a leadership role on this critical issue — and look forward to seeing action as a result.”
An estimate 2.2 million people still rely on cash daily in the U.K. — mostly elderly, vulnerable and people who live in rural communities.