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UK FINANCE: A New Name - But What Is The Agenda?

Today sees the launch of UK Finance, a body created to save £30 Million a year by combining The British Bankers Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders Association, the Asset-Based Finance Association, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.

Make no mistake, this is mainly a money-saving exercise. The timing is perhaps a little ironic, since the UK austerity programme is under fire from within its creators. However, it takes time to finalise such a mega-merger of trade bodies. When the process started, saving £30 Million could easily be positioned as the single most important factor to justify the changes.

It would be nice to think that this new body would focus on the public interest first and foremost. However, the first signs are not promising.

Take yesterdays Tweet from  the disappearing UK Cards Association " Tomorrow, the new UK Finance launches. Stand by for updates on where to follow its programme driving #cardpayments forward "

DRIVING CARD PAYMENTS FORWARD.

Read those words again and again, until they are etched on your brain.

UK Finance is, it seems, not interested in promoting Payment Choice, with the UK public interest served by allowing each and every one of us to select the payment method we prefer.

No. UK Finance will develop programmes to DRIVE CARD PAYMENTS FORWARD.

This obvious bias is particularly worrying given recent developments.

* In the last few weeks, British Airways has banned the use of cash for payments on its flights.

* earlier this year, Transport for London forced London Taxi Drivers to accept card payments, effectively imposing an additional tax on cab drivers income.

* At the beginning of 2017, Hannah Nixon, CEO of the UK Payment Systems Regulator, stated in a speech that the UK is moving towards being a cashless economy.

* In 2016, LINK, the UK ATM Network, developed a Universal Cash Deposit transaction, which potentially allows cash to be deposited at any ATM in the UK. This innovation will make cash use much easier for the public and businesses. No UK Card Issuer has to date implemented this important transaction, which is vital to the smooth circulation of cash.

* In London Underground and Railway Stations, more and more "Card Only" ticket machines are appearing.

* a couple of years ago, Transport for London banned the use of cash on buses, citing securing and costs as prime reasons. Odd. Cash is still in use on Los Angeles buses; is that a safer and less expensive city than London?

So the signs are not good for those who favour Payment Choice and certainly do not want to become Card Clones.

Needless to say, Cash-is-Cool will be contacting UK Finance to allow them the opportunity to correct the impression that the new organisation will be promoting card use.

The UK public need -AND DEMAND- Payment Choice.

If UK Finance does not help to improve Payment Choice, it will have failed the UK public and,in the end, members of this new trade body will lose the trust and business of their customers.

UK Finance can do better than that. WE WILL HELP ENSURE IT DOES.

 

Monday, 3rd July 2017

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