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The days of cash are numbered, says the Rob Butterworth, boss of Bury St Edmunds coffee house Guat’s Up!

Prior to opening Guat’s Up! on Guildhall Street in December 2015 I had the idea of opening the café as a cashless entity – I even ran the idea of taking Bitcoin, too. I was persuaded off this with good reason. Our iPad till system shows the split between cash and card payments and back in 2015 this was 70 per cent cash, 30 per cent card.

I think if we had opened back in 2015 as cashless, rather than introducing a new concept to the town (I believe we would have been the first to operate like this), we would most likely have quickly alienated our core customers.

Over the years we have tackled the everyday issue of counting and banking cash, ensuring we have enough change on the premises to cover day-to-day sales and also managing weekends, bank holidays and the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Market. This may sound reasonable, but on top of all the other tasks required to run a café, this can add a layer of complication with high risk implications for error. I’m from a generation where cash was king and having grown up in retail taking and counting cash on a daily basis, where cards were few and far between, can see the younger generation struggle a little with counting change and handling money efficiently.

Woman feet on bycikle pedal in sunset light (14269943)
Woman feet on bycikle pedal in sunset light (14269943)

In 2019 things have changed, have moved on, our cash/card split is more like 80 per cent card, 20 per cent cash and this has been helped by the introduction by the banks of contactless payments for transactions of £30 or below – perfect for that café spend. The ways in which to pay cashless have also been very cleverly integrated into everyday items. Not only can we pay via our card, but if we have forgotten our wallet we can pay using our phone or watch! The days of cash are numbered for sure.

I also feel that card transactions are a clear and accurate way of managing accounts and form an important part of a businesses taxation, this can get missed a little in cash only businesses.

With all this said, from the August 1, Guat’s Up! will become a cashless business, possibly one of the first in town but I guarantee others will soon follow suit.

Rob owns Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and tea smiths, based on Moreton Hall, and Guat’s Up! café in Guildhall Street.

His job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees.