Liam Hill, Intern, Money and Mental Health

Cash in or cash out?

11 January 2019

Just before Christmas, the Access to Cash Review released its interim report,Is Britain Ready to go Cashless?, which looked at current trends on how we spend money, and how the diminishing availability of cash might affect our communities.

We asked ourResearch Communityto share their views and experiences of using both digital payments and cash, to shape our response to the review’s call for evidence, andour recent policy noteon these issues. Here’s what people told us:

For many people, access to cash in still vital

作为一个社会,我们可能正在远离现金,但保留现金支付作为一种选择显然对一些有心理健康问题的人很重要。在我们的调查中值得注意的是,近三分之二(63%)的研究社区受访者表示他们仍然使用现金。5%的人告诉我们他们总是用现金支付,40%(41%)的人说他们经常用现金支付。显然,对于一些有心理健康问题的人来说,现金仍然至关重要。

Cash as friction

Here at Money and Mental Health, we often talk about ‘friction’ in the context of digital spending (you can read more about this in our report ‘Fintech for good’). Layers of friction between deciding to spend money and completing a transaction can be a useful way to put a break on impulsive spending, and can prevent significant financial harm – for example, having to confirm overnight purchases the next day, or putting a daily cap on spending.

Cash is itself a form of friction in this sense. We know that handing over cash has a greater psychological impact than tapping a card, entering a pin or setting up a standing order. And this fits with what our Research Community told us. Over half (55%) of respondents to our survey agreed with the statement ‘I find it easier to control my spending using cash’.

Ourearly research suggested93%的人在心理健康不佳的时期比平时花费更多的钱。很明显,向完全无现金社会的过渡将使一些有心理健康问题的人无法预算和控制开支。

“Using cash lets me see where my money goes. I have a weekly amount I withdraw from my account and use that for all purchases. I’m happier doing this than using a card as it lets me see how much I am spending and I don’t have to remember to update my budget sheet with the spend.”

Digital anxiety

实物现金还可以避免人们在银行卡或电子支付中担心的潜在欺诈或身份盗窃。对于现金支付比电子支付或信用卡支付更安全,并降低成为欺诈受害者的可能性,受访者同意的比例(41%)略高于不同意的比例(33%)。

Similarly, nearly three quarters (73%) confirmed that they like to keep cash for emergencies. Should we really be abandoning cash when it remains useful in providing security and peace of mind?

Digital dividend?

None of this is to say we should (or could) reverse the trend to digital and online payments. Across society, people are increasingly comfortable with digital payments, and perhaps unsurprisingly a majority of our survey respondents (69%) also told us they use card more often than five years ago.

Having complete oversight in one place, on a bank statement or an online or in-app summary, is for many people a useful way to track spending. Some banks also offer ways of summarising and breaking down spending as well, which can help people to analyse and prioritise how we spend money.

65% of respondents to our survey agreed that “it’s easier to keep track of electronic payments than cash payments when I am unwell.” And, as the quote below from a Research Community member suggests, paying with direct debits can allay fears about missing vital payments.

“这样更方便——我不总是带现金,但我总是带着银行卡。我还喜欢用固定汇款单和直接借记支付账单,因为它们是自动支付的,所以我不需要去想它们。”

Leaving no one behind

It’s not in anyone’s interests to exclude people from our economy. Our research shows cash is still an important practical and psychological safeguard for some people, offering protection and reassurance to many people that the various forms of digital payment currently don’t.

我们的理财习惯会继续演变,但这是一个简单的公平问题,任何进一步向“无现金社会”的过渡都不能让任何人掉以轻心。