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Ron Delnevo's Blog
Ron Delnevo's Blog
Blogs » Ron Delnevo's Blog

The Anti-Cash Agenda of the UK "Authorities".

Last week, the UK government launched a consultation entitled "cash and digital payments in the new economy".

You can read the whole, very sad, document here 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cash-and-digital-payments-in-the-new-economy

The tone of this document is decidedly anti-cash. Essentially, the clear implication is that only the poor and criminals "need" to use cash, implying that no one would ever legitimately choose to do so.

This consultation is a huge mistake because it takes the lid off the on-going conspiracy of the "Authorities" in the UK to deprive the public of the freedom to exercise choice. The right to decide how one pays is a vital part of overall freedom of choice.

There are a few voices in relatively high places still supporting cash - Victoria Cleland, the Chief Cashier at the Bank of England, is a good example. However, Victoria is one of the few. The institutions set up to manage Financial Services in the UK are uniformly taking anti-cash stances. 

First question. Which institutions are involved? 

Here is the list:

Bank of England

Treasury

Financial Conduct Authority

Payment Systems Regulator

Competition and Markets Authority

So what are these institutions up to?

Lets just take a quick look at each of them in turn.

The Bank of England has fairly recently introduced polymer bank notes. Frankly, the benefits of this are questionable and the costs to businesses in the ATM and cash industries high. Most worrying, however, is the fact that the Bank has yet to announce the launch of a polymer £50 note, having already taken steps to limit the supply of the existing paper variety.

Why is this worrying?

Simple. Banknotes are used as a store of value as well as being a means of payment. Eliminating the £50 note, which is clearly under consideration, will leave those members of the public who want to keep cash as a store of value having to use low denomination notes to do so.

Why should this be inflicted on the UK public? To have a £50 note as the highest denomination is a very low bar anyway, based on international comparisons. The Eurozone still has 500, 200 and 100 Euro notes in circulation; in the United States, they have kept their $100 bill; Switzerland has a 1000 Franc denomination.

Lets be clear. The Bank of England's failure to confirm the future of the £50 note is part of what can be termed a "war on cash". 

I only need one word to describe this procrastination.

UNACCEPTABLE.

Turning to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), their published aim is to "regulate in a way that adds the most benefit to those who use financial services".  Everyone in the UK, then.

The FCA is nominally "independent" but reports to the Treasury and Parliament. If the Treasury isn't satisfied with the FCA, they simply change the person at the top. Ask Martin Wheatley, its former CEO, who was reportedly removed because he was too hard on UK banks, especially those owned by the UK government. Example? The Treasury currently owns 70.85% of the voting rights of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The CEO of the FCA sits on the board of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). For all the supposed "independence" of the PSR, the FCA calls the tune. If Hannah Nixon, PSR CEO, doesn't do what she is told, she will go the same way as Martin Wheatley.

Ms Nixon is avowedly anti-cash. I have heard with my own ears her declaration that the UK is moving towards being a cashless society.

Hannah Nixon would know; she is trying to help to engineer the cashless society that she would clearly welcome.

The PSR under Nixon supposedly has oversight of the LINK ATM Network. I say supposedly because nothing is being done by the PSR to halt the destruction of LINK - and therefore free public access to cash at ATMs - by the arbitrary slashing of fees paid to ATM operators. 

Why would Nixon act? She doesn't want ATMs in her cashless society.

If you do not like what is happening in financial services, including, presumably, what the Bank of England, Treasury, FCA and PSR are up to, you can complain to the Competition and Markets Authority( CMA) which "works to promote competition for the benefit of consumers".

Unfortunately, the CMA seems to have very limited resources. So if a complaint is made, for example, against the actions which threaten the future of ATMs, that complaint goes into a "consideration pipeline". The complainant is not informed as to the fate of their complaint and will only find out if the CMA decides to start an investigation, which might be never. Complaints in the "pipeline" are not even listed on the CMA website. They are invisible forever, unless and until the CMA decides to act.

Once again, the CMA is supposedly "independent" - but then it is wise to recall the fate of its predecessor, the Office of Fair Trading , which was simply abolished when its political masters became dissatisfied.  Independence is allowed in name but cannot be exercised, it seems.

So what will the CMA do if it receives a complaint regarding LINK? It will have a pow-wow with the FCA and PSR to decide what course of action is politic ie what will please the Treasury.

Which brings us back to the Treasury, which has issued the consultation document on behalf of the government.

As already mentioned, the whole tone of the document is anti-cash, basically asking the question " why would anyone need to use cash, unless they are poor or a criminal". Yes. Why would anyone who wasn't poor or a criminal want to be free to choose, truly independent and to enjoy privacy? 

In this flawed consultation document the Treasury and government effectively congratulate LINK and the PSR for "promising" every area in the UK has at least one ATM. This promise, of course, cannot and will not be delivered . It is of the same quality as the promise the UK public were given years ago that the last bank branch in town would never close ie USELESS.

Even if LINK COULD guarantee there would be an ATM in every community - which it cannot - one would not be enough. Proof? Read this article about the town with three ATMs, all down at the same time

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/1435891/ross-shire-town-left-cashless-after-three-atms-broke-down-at-the-same-time/

I am an expert on ATMs. I can tell you one ATM in any community is NOT enough. It will fail to operate at least 2 days per month, on average. More if the merchant is responsible for putting the cash in the ATM or the community is remote. To leave any town with one ATM will ensure cash is NOT always conveniently available and force people who have cards to use them more. WHICH IS WHAT THE UK "AUTHORITIES" SEEM TO WANT.

So there you have it. A very brief introduction to the direction of travel of the "powers that be" in the UK.

SADLY FOR THEM, WE - THE BRITISH PUBLIC - CAN NOW SEE EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE UP TO. 

Do we have a one word answer to give to them?

How about simply

NO

Tuesday, 20th March 2018

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