I am a decisive person. I favour action over endless debate and discussion.
Winston Churchill said “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.” BUT, certainly in the UK, we “jaw” too much and get too little done.
Look at the expansion of Heathrow.... EXACTLY.
When I write my book, exposing the failures of others and glorifying myself ( that’s what biographies are for, after all), I will develop this theme in detail.
For now, however, just a brief story about my favourite subject: cash.
The recent UK Access to Cash Review headlined cash as “expensive”.
Such a claim, of course, can only be supported if 1) the “cost” of cash is transparently evaluated, including ascribing values to ALL societal benefits and 2) valid comparisons are made with the transparently evaluated costs of both other payment methods
and other pillars that support the platform we call “society.”
Neither 1) or 2) can be found anywhere in the Access to Cash Review.
In any event, despite this failing, the Access to Cash Review moved the Bank of England to announce they will be reviewing, with unspecified other parties, the cost of cash circulation.
This announcement from the Bank of England came with a statement along the lines of “ the circulation system we have now was designed to handle a high volume of cash. With volumes reducing, we need to develop a cheaper system”.
This statement will be seen by many as curious, since the Bank of England’s own figures show that there is more cash in circulation in the UK than ever before, despite 10% of the countries ATMs having been closed in the last 18 months or so.
By the way, the UK is not unusual in terms of the increase of cash in circulation; almost every country in the world reports exactly the same situation.
Because cash is far more than simply a payment method. It is a store of value that can be retained by each and every one of us as protection against calamity, whether visited on us by government or nature.
So that is why cash in circulation goes on increasing almost everywhere - in fact, in every country where it is allowed to do so. It is really only in markets where cash in circulation is subject to manipulation by anti-cash vested interests that the volume
of circulating cash is falling.
Anyway, back to the Bank of England.
More than a decade ago, I decided to set-up a new Cash Management operation in the UK.
At the time, I was dissatisfied with the choice available in terms of getting cash delivered to the ATMs run by my company.
So I spent £ Millions developing two state-of-the-art Cash Centres to service the cash needs of the ATM estate I ran.
I won’t at this stage go through all the obstacles in my path to getting those Cash Centres up-and-running.
Let’s just say that the barriers to entry were high and not simply an issue of cost.
However, eventually my two Cash Centres were fully operating, for the first time offering “ just-in-time” cash deliveries to my ATM estate.
Having achieved the seemingly almost impossible task, I went to the Bank of England - repeatedly - and asked that my Cash Centres be included in the Note Circulation Scheme ( NCS).
The NCS works on the basis that when banknotes are held in a specified vault in a Cash Centre, they are regarded as being in possession of the Bank of England, removing the need for the Cash Centre operator to bear the interest costs of holding the cash.
Being a member of the NCS is important in terms of reducing circulation costs. If a Cash Centre was not allowed to participate, the banknotes have to be transported to a Cash Centre that DOES participate.
MY CASH CENTRES WERE NEVER ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE NCS.
So there I was, over a decade ago, working to keep cash circulation costs down - and what support did I get?
So you will forgive me if I won’t sit back and wait for the Old Lady - or anyone else - to concoct proposals supposedly aimed at reducing the cost of “expensive” cash.
Here is what needs to be done, starting in 2019:
* we need to see the introduction of more Merchant Replenishment (MR) of ATMs, where the site-owner puts their own cash in the ATM on their premises, has been used for decades in the US to reduce costs, increasing the number of ATMs that are economically
We need more MR ATMs in the UK in 2019!
* ATMs that recycle cash deposited and make it available to be immediately dispensed, are barely in use in the UK.
Recycling was first introduced in Japan in 1982. Now EVERY Japanese ATM recycles cash.
We need recycling ATMs widely installed in the UK, starting in 2019!
* Universal Cash Deposit,which allows the public to deposit cash at ANY ATM, not just one owned by their own bank. With UK bank branch AND bank ATM numbers down, this is a vital innovation to make cash more convenient & even cheaper to use.
We need Universal Cash Deposit implemented at UK ATMs in 2019!
* We need a redefinition - IMMEDIATELY - of Legal Tender, stating that ALL banknotes and Royal Mint coins produced in the UK are Legal Tender throughout the UK and that their being Legal Tender means they MUST be accepted for any in-person payment.
Acceptance of Cash MUST be made a Legal Requirement in 2019!
* LINK MUST return to a transparent cost-based methodology for setting interchange for ALL ATM transactions. This is a vital step to maintain and improve free access to cash at ATMs.
LINK must return to cost-based ATM Interchange in 2019!
* ALL LINK Members must be required to commit to a new 25 year Membership Contract.
We must have a renewed commitment to LINK in 2019!
* ALL Cash Centres should be members of the Note Circulation Scheme, reducing the need for pointless and costly movements of cash.
All Cash Centres MUST Join the NCS in 2019!
* We MUST see the implementation of a UK Charter for Payment Choice in 2019. Namely,
1. Businesses which accept in-person payments (including through vending machines) will be required to accept any payment method which accounts for more than 5% (by number not value) of the total annual in-person payments in the UK.
2. Businesses shall be required to make clear at point of sale the transaction limits that apply to each payment method. For avoidance of doubt, it shall be a legal requirement to accept all payments methods up to a limit of £100.
3. All business-to-business fees relating to payments shall be set by the appropriate UK Regulator each year, based on a transparent cost-based methodology.
4. Any direct charges made in connection with in-person payments are to be fully transparent and subject to the specific approval by the customer prior to the completion of the transaction.
5. All bank branches shall be required to provide access to deposit and withdrawal facilities for cash, both notes and coins.
The UK Charter for Payment Choice MUST be implemented in 2019!
We don’t need further protracted discussions - WE NEED ACTION NOW!
And, by the way, I will NOT take NO for an answer in 2019!
Saturday, 1st June 2019