Cash and Curry

28 October 2020

Zennan Green



Staying in is the new going out. At least for just now, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. And while I am in awe of many of my friends who have managed to improve their cooking skills over the past six months, I can’t say that I have done the same. Instead, I have made more use of the many food takeaway, collection and delivery facilities that appear to have grown during the pandemic.

Last weekend, I decided to treat myself to a curry. It so turned out that many other people in the Scottish Borders also decided to treat themselves that night, and I was told there would be a two hour wait… or twenty minutes if I could collect in person.

There’s always a subconscious calculation that goes through my mind: how much extra am I willing to spend for the convenience of delivery, and how long am I prepared to wait? Probably, most people think this way. But for me, time was the deal breaker, so I said I would go out and collect. What happened next surprised me.

“We would appreciate payment by cash, sir”.

It surprised me because, since the beginning of the pandemic, cash has been (wrongly) cast as the least-preferred payment method. This was the first time for a long while that I had heard a business actively asking for cash.

While I was in the restaurant to collect my food, I could hear the manager taking order after order from the other side of the plexiglass screen. Each time, he asked the customer if they would mind paying with cash: “We would appreciate payment by cash”. And from what I saw from the steady stream of collections, most customers were happy to oblige. So, when it came to my turn to collect and pay (with cash), I asked him why he was requesting cash payment. He explained that since the pandemic had begun, the fees they were being charged to accept card payments had gone up “a number of times”, and it was a cost to his business that he could easily avoid if he just asked.

As I walked back home, a few things occurred to me about what had just happened:

  • Customers are, in fact, happy to use cash if asked – or even when they are reassured that it is OK to do so
  • Easy and efficient access to cash is critical to ensure we have a free-to-use payment method, accessible to all
  • Rising costs and fees associated with delivery and certain payment methods need to be either absorbed by businesses or passed on to consumers – neither option is good, but alternative solutions exist
  • Physical distancing and good hygiene practices remain the most important consideration, and cash can also be a contactless payment method – talk to GLORY to find out more

COVID-19 has already put pressure on consumers and retailers alike, and it is inevitable that everybody will start to consider what costs and fees - and how much - they are willing to accept.

As for me and Saturday night? Well, I could get used to a night in with Malayan lamb and Netflix, even long after the pandemic has passed...

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