Last week Tesco embraced an increasingly cashless society by opening a store on High Holborn, Central London, that doesn’t accept notes or coins.
The shop has only two manned tills, swapping the rest for self-service lanes, and only accepts electronic payment.
Up to 80 per cent of payments made in the UK are made electronically. But experts are warning that the new store – Tesco’s second of its kind – makes shopping inaccessible for elderly and vulnerable customers and risks creating financial chaos for the excluded if other retailers follow suit.
Beth Thomas, head of partnerships and programmes at The Big Issue, has played a pivotal role in ensuring that vendors remain financially included by helping them to start offering contactless payments.
Reacting to the news, she said: “This isn’t something to celebrate. Shops that choose to only accept cashless are essentially choosing to exclude certain customers. Those with disabilities, elderly people, people with poor mental health and ‘unbanked’ people are all at risk of being further excluded in a cashless society.”
The Big Issue has long campaigned against financial exclusion and worked hard to make sure our vendors don’t lose out on making a living as fewer and fewer people carry cash.