Retailers urged to accept cash payments that match new £100 contactless limit in cash fight back


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Retailers urged to accept cash payments that match new £100 contactless limit in cash fight back.

A ‘cash fight back’ has stepped up a level with retailers being urged to accept cash payments to at least to the same level as the new £100 contactless limit. The call comes from consumer champions, the UK Cash Supply Alliance (CSA), a not-for-profit cash industry organisation which is also encouraging frustrated customers to press their case with ‘refusenik retailers’ and ensure payment parity for legal tender.

The pandemic has accelerated many retailers refusal to accept cash - one in three 1 at its height - ‘due to health concerns’ and despite Bank of England research concluding that the risk of catching COVID-19 from banknotes is low2 . While the Bank’s research also found that the biggest Covid transmission risks in stores are actually from proximity to other infected people, touching a ‘high touch’ object such as the handles on shopping baskets or shopping trolleys, and products on open shelves.

Says Nigel Constable, Chair of the CSA, which launched last month: “We are frustrated by ongoing reports of refusenik retailers not accepting cash simply due to ‘hygiene issues’ when the Bank of England’s own research concluded this was simply not true and that there was actually a greater risk from other ‘high touch’ objects.

“While some retailers such as Aldi, Co-op, Lloyds Pharmacy and Waitrose are publicly supporting cash, too many are refusing this legal tender based on bogus health reasons, rather than accepting they’re offering poor customer service to the 40 million adults in the UK3 who still regularly use cash. 

“We’re advising consumers who want to use cash to make their concerns known to retail head offices or management, or simply move their custom to cash-supporting stores.  We have some examples from our members where cash fight backs seem to have had an effect. For instance, after an intervention by a director of the CSA with Caffe Nero and the Scottish government, the coffee shop chain has now apparently reversed their previous decision to go ‘cashless’ and now accepts cash again across the UK. The CSA welcomes this move and urges all retailers to accept cash.”

With the Community Access to Cash (CACP) Pilots report expected soon, the CSA is looking forward to these findings, including the new ‘cashback without purchase’ trials after new UK legislation was passed in April this year which enables retailers to offer cashback to customers without needing to make a purchase at the same time.   

Should retailers heed the call to accept cash payments that match the new £100 contactless limit, this would provide stores with a ready made ‘float’ to help introduce their own ‘cashback without purchase’ schemes.

Adds Nigel Constable: “With the full report on CACP expected by the end of the year, we’re expecting a raft of positive recommendations and measures for the banking sector to help support the future of cash in the UK.  It’s time for meaningful action by the industry and we will be watching the outcome of the report and resulting responses very closely.”

Officially launched in October 2021, the CSA’s steering group includes representatives from the Post Office, Loomis and Cennox, plus several other key industry players. It is aiming to engage with a wide range of stakeholders over the future of cash, from the UK government, regulators and trade associations, to retailers and the public.


  1. Which?
  2. Bank of England quarterly bulletin, Q4 2020
  3. Sonect

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