A Gazette reader has questioned the country’s move towards a cashless society after they were unable to pay by card when a shop’s card machine stopped working.

Gazette reader Jules Palliser shared their story of when they tried to buy petrol from a local station, only to find a hand-written notice which read: “Sorry cash only. Credit card machine not working”. Jules shared it as a cautionary tale against a cashless and digital-only currency.

Gazette readers agree with the scepticism of a cashless way of life. A question put to followers of @RossGazette on social media site Twitter: “Do you feel it’s important that business still carry cash, or do you embrace a cashless society?” Three-quarters of participants said that “Yes, cash is important”, with the remaining people saying that they’re happy to embrace cashlessness.

Jules added: “This is just one very good reason why we must keep cash alive and well, as it is more apparent that anything may, and will, stop working without it. Consequently, this may be a very threatening way of life as no technology is infallible.”

We are one cyber attack from oblivion.

John Gibbons

The sentiment was shared by a number of readers on other social media platforms.

Paul Stephens said: “Quite right, keep cash alive. Just think, once everyone is cashless the charges to use your cards would soon be brought in. Our government would love it knowing exactly where your money is going.”

John Gibbons added: “We are one cyber attack from oblivion. At least cash will still enable commerce to function in a non digital world.”

Statistics published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales tell us that, more than a quarter of adults in the UK now have an account with a digital-only bank. According to Barclays 88.6 per cent of payments made in 2020 were contactless.

Whilst the trend as been accelerated as a result of Covid-19 public health measures, the move to a cashless society has been criticised by a number of rights groups. Homeless charities have said that the marginalisation of cash has the potential to exclude those unable to get bank accounts due to not having a fixed address, as well as being affected by fewer people carrying change; human rights organisations have indicated privacy concerns with every transaction of a person’s life, as well as when and where they were at the time, kept on record.