London Amber Davenport

Amber Davenport

Although older people especially tend to like using cash (and debt charities saying using cash usually results in spending less), many countries (including Sweden) are increasingly becoming cashless. Just 2% of all transactions by Swedes are now used with paper money and coins.

Most people in Sweden use Swish (this is also how people pay each other money and leave tips at restaurants). It’s free to send and receive payments for private individuals, and companies and charities simply pay the small fee to use it, as otherwise they would never receive money, as so many people use it. Others use their smartphones (most places don’t even take pin numbers now, everything has to be contactless). Visitors have to still use their phones, as Swish requires a bank account and mobile phone in that country, to work. However unlike in England, it’s easier to find free-to-use ATM machines if paying cash.

Not so many people in England are cashless, but many other. The pandemic obviously meant that many people preferred not to use cash. But one big reason why many vegan fast food restaurants are totally cashless, is because the new bank notes are made with animal fats. Campaigners have asked the Bank of England to change its policy (which also affects Hindus, Sikhs and Jains) to no avail. As the bank says the animal tallow (from the kidneys and loins of cows, sheep or horses) ‘helps notes slide in and out of a wallet or purse), and prevent static when used in counting machines. The company also supplies animal fat bank notes to at least 20 other countries.

Another issue with new bank notes is that they are made with polymer (plastic). As if we don’t have enough plastic problems already, creating bank notes with plastic because they are ‘cleaner’ means they don’t break down when they go out of circulation, and will be around polluting our planet for hundreds of years to come. This is the problem when our national bank is obsessed with ‘money’ above planet.

But the decision not to redesign the notes (the makers say ‘palm oil’ would be too costly, which would then harm orangutans) means that in London especially, people are increasingly finding it easier to pay cashless (£500 million less is now removed from ATM machines compared to before the pandemic).

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