Micro-traders handling £4bn in cash on a weekly basis, with six in 10 not ready to move to a cashless business model


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Cash looks set to continue playing an important role for micro-traders across the UK, both now and in the future, according Post Office’s Future of Cash 1 research. The study revealed that cash is still one of the most commonly used form of payments amongst micro traders, with half (50%) highlighting the importance of having access to cash to run a successful business.

The study of more than 1,000 micro traders from across a range of sectors and regions found these smallest businesses handle an average of £731 a week in cash – the equivalent of £4bn across the UK - with this remaining one of their most commonly (59%) accepted methods of payment.

According to the study, six in 10 (59%) do not intend on making the move to a cashless business model in the near future, whilst a third (31%) do not ever expect to disregard cash payments completely. This reluctance to make the move to completely cashless is largely driven by customers’ behaviour; more than half (54%) of those who do not expect to go cashless within the next 18 months say this is because their customers want to pay in cash.

Commenting on the research, Martin Kearsley, Director of Banking Services at Post Office said : “Despite the increased use of digital payments, our research highlights that the debate on the future of cash should not be about one form of payment replacing the other, but instead looking at how micro-traders balance their use of different methods alongside one another.

“There are over 5.5 million micro-businesses in the UK, accounting for 33% of employment, and a significant proportion continues to rely upon the flexibility cash offers alongside other form of payments. It is vital that the smallest businesses, the lifeblood of local economies, continue to have access to cash and banking facilities to help them run a successful business.”

Cash services

The Future of Cash research also highlighted the importance for micro-traders to have access to cash services in their local community. Six in 10 (59%) use their local bank to deposit cash, with micro-traders using cash services four times a month to deposit an average of £256. This service is most frequently used by those in the retail space (seven times a month), followed by manufacturing micro-traders (six times a month). For a third (33%), a bank branch is used to make cash withdrawals, whilst almost a fifth (17%) use a local Post Office.

Despite the majority of micro-traders reiterating the need to have access to cash services, over a quarter (27%) do not have access to a bank branch in their local community.

Cash in the community

While the study highlights micro-traders’ use of cash within their business, it also highlights how the UK recognises the role cash plays supporting businesses and local economies.

Three in 10 (30%) say that small businesses remain dependent upon access to cash, and 27% do not think their community has the infrastructure in place to go completely cashless, with those in suburban (30%) and rural areas (28%) equally concerned.

Martin Kearsley concluded : “Our findings highlight that cash is still an extremely important part of a micro-traders’ business model, so it is crucial that they have access to cash services in order to support their business. This may become particularly challenging in light of continued bank branch closures across the UK, but their local Post Office is the solution – providing small businesses with everyday services such as cash withdrawals and deposits, supporting communities all around the country.”

ENDS

1 The figures are sourced from a nationally representative survey conducted by Censuswide. Research with a sample of 2,024 online interviews with UK adults, from 17th August to 20th August 2018, and research of 1,095 micro traders (businesses with between 0-9 employees) from around the country.

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