Is it time we became a cashless society?

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In the UK we are currently going through a rollout of new coins and notes. The new £5 polymer note was introduced last year and it cost the Bank of England £70 million to develop then around another 7p per note to print. These costs will no doubt be similar to the other notes that are being introduced. However, do we really need to keep printing new money when most people have debit cards with contactless payments, and many phones now have NFC built in allowing them to make mobile payments.

Looking at Sweden, it is the most cashless society on the planet, with barely 1% of the value of all payments made using coins or notes last year. If we could replicate this attitude it would have all sorts of benefits, not only does it reduce the cost to print the money, but the environmental impact is reduced. Vegetarians and Vegas were not best pleased about finding animal product used in the new £5 note.

There is also the security aspect of cash as well. Physically stealing money from someone is far easier than skimming their card. With payments via your phone you also have quick access to all your recent purchases, in comparison have you ever taken out a twenty then by the end of the day wondering what you have spent it on?

In the past the cost to implement a card payment system was expensive for smaller companies, you needed merchant bank accounts, expensive machines, access to a landline and fees on top of this. For small companies, this is often just not feasible due to the costs. Often the issue is a physical problem too, pop up shops, market stall vendors, street food vendors etc just don't have access to a landline for dial-out authorisation or internet authorisation

Thanks to the boom in the smartphone industry, we are all carrying around a computer with a net connection already. So, it was only a matter of time until enterprising companies developed card payment services that could be used via your phone. These systems are called General Mobile Point of Sales or MPOS for short.

One such company that has developed this service and the hardware that goes along with it is Sum Up. Unlike traditional services, Sum Up and many other MPOS providers implementing the system is extremely cheap, you generally just have to buy the card reader, and pay the fees. There is often no monthly fees and no contracts.

In the case of Sum Up the one-off fee for their card payment machines is just £59 and you then pay a fee of just 1.69% per transaction. Payments go to Sum Up and then they pay to your bank account is 2-3 days. The card reader they sell allows Contactless payments, chip and PIN and even magnetic stripe payments.

You can manage everything from their dedicated iOS or Android App and there is also access via a browser.

As you don't require complex merchant accounts or expensive contracts it is possible for you to sign up to their system in just 5 minutes, and if you don't like their card reader, you have 30 days to return it for your money back.

For the sack of less than 2% of your sale, you can avoid all the hassle of dealing with cash, accounting is far simpler and you would have to take far less risky trips to the bank to drop off your takings.

It is just a matter of time before we become a cashless society, but there is no reason why this can't be sooner rather than later with companies like Sum Up providing affordable card payment services.

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