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Why do some retailers prefer CASH?

Whilst visiting a friend in Leigh on Sea I saw a sign that showed cash is still king. A ‘10% discount for cash sales above £3’ was offered at a pharmacy.  This was interesting because we have been seeing reports that cards are the most popular form of payment.  What this picture shows is that cash is still an important method of payment for retailers. 

Why would a retailer want cash when it costs more than its value to bank and when it tends to go missing in stores?

May be it is because it is cheaper than cards for the retailer in terms of speed and service costs.

We were told that contactless payment cards will help displace more cash for low value payments, up to £30, but we can see that for this retailer, the costs for payment cards is still too high. 

I believe that through sensible regulation small retailers could be provided payment services at lower cost to further reduce cash usage in the economy.  For retailers it seems “Merchant fees are like the price of petrol? - The fees go up quickly and come down very slowly.” 

Merchant fees are paid by retailers to manage the payment transaction and flow of funds from a cardholders account to the retailers account.  These organisations, for small retailers, extract other fees such as renting terminals and providing fraud protection services.  They also generate profits by holding the funds on behalf of retailers and only paying them after a delay in getting the funds from the cardholder. 

Therefore, what type of regulation is needed?

I believe regulation around payment processors releasing funds to retailers promptly is key, as is knowing what the fixed interbank costs for transactions are.  With this information retailers can see the difference and help evaluate potential competitors.  Also, I believe regulation is required to provide extra retailer protection from lost and stolen card transactions following settlement, as described here[1].

The goal for payments in an economy is for the payer to decide which method they want to pay with and the retailer to be happy to pay the costs without altering the price of the goods or service.





Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 19 May, 2015, 14:20Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Ever since I got my first credit card in the mid 1980s, I've preferred to pay by cards. And every day, including until two days ago, virtually every merrchant I come across wishes to get paid by cash.

The explicit cost of accepting card payments (MDF/MSC) is the most obvious reason for merchants' overwhelming preference for cash. But the hidden cost of laying hands on receipts via card is a more powerful driver, as I'd highlighted in this blog post:

Cash in Hand Is Worth More Than Card In Bush

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