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An independent report entitled “Access to Cash” has been published this month. Although funded by Link, the cash machine network, the research has been conducted independently and highlights the difficulties many people are facing due to the closures of many bank branches and the removal of numerous ATMs. Companies which sort and circulate coins and bank notes say that their businesses are becoming unprofitable as an increasing number of people are using digital payment methods. Most businesses currently accepting cash predict that they will only do so for another two to five years, after which the method will be commercially unviable. The cash payment system could therefore collapse within a short time and needs intervention by the Treasury to prevent this from happening.




In many ways this revelation is unsurprising. In the UK approximately one third of today’s payments are still made by cash, but electronic and card payments are becoming more popular. Cheques are rare and almost disappeared a few years ago when attempts were made to bring the use of them to an end. Many bills can no longer be paid by cheque, and younger people generally do not possess cheque books. Bills which can be settled by means of a cheque payment often incur higher charges, customers being offered preferential rates by utility companies for entering into a direct debit agreement. Cheques involve more work and take longer to clear – even though banks have improved the clearance time more recently. If a cheque is sent by post, not only does the payment take longer to arrive but it also involves the cost of a postage stamp – unless the utility company still offers a Freepost service, which is rare nowadays. Businesses can save time by not having to process cheque payments. For them, electronic methods are so much simpler. The cheque still faces its demise.




Cash now faces the threat of going the same way. In 2018 and 2019 the major banks will be closing well over 1,000 branches. In the three previous years (2015-2017) Which, the consumer magazine, documented the closure of 2,238 branches. Card-machine provider Paymentsense revealed that between July 2017 and June 2018 4,735 ATMs have vanished – which means that an average of 394 closed every single month. In recent years banks have made it simpler for their business to be conducted in local Post Offices, but these are also disappearing at an alarming rate. Restructuring could see a further 3,000 disappear soon. Access to cash must be provided if it is continue, but all the indications are that cash is becoming more difficult to obtain. Younger folk often manage perfectly well without it. A debit card suffices for their needs and is simple to use with contactless payments being possible in many places. A computer or mobile device enables payments to be made over the internet. The only people unable and unwilling to use these methods are generally older folk. As this generation disappears, the need for cash may disappear too. Recognizing the importance of real money continuing to circulate, Natalie Ceeney, the chair-person of “Access to Cash” has called on the Treasury to regulate access to cash in order to save it. It will be interesting to see whether the call is heeded.




There are many advantages in having a cashless society. Money can be stolen or lost. Cash transactions can be unrecorded and taxes thus avoided. Tax authorities would find it easier to check up on a person’s income if cash no longer existed. The theft of ATMs has also become a scourge. Thieves regularly target ATMs by night, removing the machines from the wall by using builders’ equipment. ATM providers often do not replace the ATM which has been stolen. Other payment methods appear safer and more attractive.



The Bible describes a day when it will not be possible to trade without “a mark” either in the right hand or in the forehead (Revelation 13:16,17). That day may be very near. An implant with all your personal data, carried on the person, would render the present plastic card unnecessary. It might sound attractive, but those who comply will be under God’s curse because they have placed themselves under the control of a coming dictator (“the Beast”) and an evil system. This is very much part of an end-time scenario and is one of the signs of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.