There’s been a big shift in spending habits over the last decade. Not necessarily on the things we spend money on (although that’s certainly changed too), but the way we actually spend our money. Card payments and digital transactions are rapidly taking over from coins and banknotes.
According to a report from UK Finance, more than five million people lived a near-cashless lifestyle last year, with debit cards taking over as the UK’s most popular payment method.
Benefits of Going Cashless
As a restaurateur, there are a number of benefits to abolishing cash payments in your restaurant and “going cashless."
Here are some of the main ones:
#1 There’s less risk of theft
After a busy day, your till is (hopefully) heaving to the brim with cash. Coins and banknotes can be pleasingly bulky, but having so much cash lying around is a risk. It’s a tempting target for opportunist thieves or even untrustworthy members of staff. However, if all your payments are taken by card, there’s nothing to steal. The money is credited straight to your merchant account, ready to be transferred to your business account without anyone having the chance to touch it.
#2 No more cashing up
It’s the job that no one wants to do. Cashing-up at the end of the day can be a long-winded task, particularly when all you want to do is go home and put your feet up. And then there’s the dreaded moment when the till doesn’t balance. Well, no cash equals no cashing up and less stress for you and your staff.
#3 No more trips to the bank or security pick-ups
All that lovely cash that you’ve taken has to go to the bank or get picked up in a secured van. This takes time and costs money, especially if your local bank isn’t so local and it’s a bit of a trek. When your payments are all taken digitally, the money is fired straight into your account without any extra logistics needed.
#4 It’s easier to record transactions
With card payments, each transaction is recorded automatically and stored for ever more. This eliminates the need to manually keep a record of all your cash transactions.
#5 You can get finance
This might sound like a strange one at first but taking card payments give you another option when it comes to getting finance for your business. Merchant cash advances work by letting you borrow money against your future card takings. With a cash advance, you borrow a lump sum which you can repay as a percentage of your daily card transactions.
#6 There’s no risk of counterfeiting
According to the Bank of England, one in 5,000 banknotes are counterfeit. In 2018, the face value of all the counterfeit notes that were detected was £10 million. Checking each coin and banknote for counterfeits is a very manual process, and like any manual process, it’s prone to human error. Card payments obviously don’t carry this risk.
#7 It’s more hygienic
Let’s be frank – money is dirty. Most coins and banknotes have likely changed hands many thousands of times before you hold them, so they’ve almost certainly picked up a fair amount of bacteria. In fact, a recent study from Money.co.uk and the London Metropolitan University found two life-threatening bugs on coins and notes, including MRSA! No one wants MRSA in their restaurant…
#8 Your customers will spend more
Another potential benefit to going cashless is that customers tend to spend a little more when they use their card. When paying by cash, people are limited by what’s in their wallet. If they draw out £50 for a night out, they’re unlikely to overspend without needing a trip to the nearest cash machine! A recent study by MIT found that shoppers tend to spend 100 percent more when using their cards instead of cash.
#9 It’s the future
No, we’re not talking about garlic bread. But card and digital transactions are quickly outpacing cash payments. Consumer trends are gradually favouring one over the other, and that trend is only going to continue. So why swim against the stream when there are so many other benefits to going cashless too?
Disadvantages of Going Cashless
It wouldn’t be fair to list the pros without considering some of the cons of abolishing cash payments from your restaurant.
#1 You risk excluding the minority who still pay with cash
Trends are leaning towards a cashless society but we’re not actually there yet. There’s still a significant percentage who prefer to pay by cash. There are also some people who just don’t have access to a debit card, the so-called “unbanked”. Ditch your till and you also risk ditching these customers.
#2 Your staff’s tips will be affected
Waiters and waitresses live for their tips to top-up their standard wages. If you switch to a cashless system, it’s going to have an impact. Even if you enable customers to add a gratuity onto their card payments, it’ll be difficult to make sure those tips are distributed to the right employees. The alternative – evenly distributing it amongst all your staff – might not go down well.
#3 You have to pay card processing fees
Each time you take a card payment, you forfeit part of it in the form of processing fees. If you stop taking cash, you’ll lose more of your revenue to these charges. The fees vary between providers but they can be as much as three-percent per transaction.