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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Barclays glitch hits online and ATM customers

A systems glitch left Barclays customers unable to access their accounts online or use cash machines on Saturday.

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Card Glitch Shows Why Cash and Cheques Should Stay

The problem that Barclays had last weekend shows why it is that cash and cheques should stay for the foreseeable future.  At least the handing over of pieces of paper and coinage isn't hit by a systems failure like the one they experienced.

Of course, most people don't carry much in the way of cash around with them these days, and they wouldn't have been able to go to an ATM to get any - unless they could have got money from another bank's ATM, that is.  Then they could have carried on shopping.

With cheques (and a sensible guarantee card limit), they would have had an even better back-up, with little in the way of disruption and inconvenience.  Just write a cheque, hand it over, and hey presto, the purchase continues.  Maybe shops should reconsider whether they really want to stop taking much money did they end up not taking during that period?

There are probably those who say that, well, the outage was only a short time, and therefore could be tolerated.  Not if you are a purchaser on a short timescale, it couldn't.  In any case, why should people have to put up with such disruption?  After all, we are all only trying to get access to our own money...

And I imagine that, if I'd spent the best part of an hour filling a supermarket shopping trolley, only to find that I couldn't pay when I got everything through the checkout, I'd be less than pleased.  

Until financial organisations can come up with 100% reliability and availability of systems, then there will always be a need for backup.  Cash and cheques meet other vital needs too, but an incident like this only provides another strong reason why they need to be around for a long time to come.


Comments: (1)

Brett King
Brett King - Moven - New York 27 August, 2010, 14:11Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


I think this view is terribly naive, the fact is cheques are in terminal decline, debit card usage is climbing rapidly, once NFC and P2P payments are the norm cash will drop off too. We don't need to keep outdated, archaic modalities of payment to be safe, reliable and secure - we just need the appropriate investment in the infrastructure.

Cash and cheques will NOT be around for a long time to come. The key reason is when you can simply touch your phone to a POS terminal or another phone to make a payment, why on earth would you go back to a physical paper process?

Brett King - Author, BANK 2.0

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