News & Insight

3 million small businesses in the UK still aren't accepting cards.

Oliver Jones

Business owners are playing catch-up when it comes to card payments.

Business owners are playing catch-up when it comes to card payments.

Three million British SME’s are still cash-only. That’s in spite of new figures that show that 1 in 6 British shoppers pay exclusively by card – a figure that’s rising as cards, especially contactless ones, continue to build on rapid growth over the last year.

Research by Square shows that 6 in 10 customers spend more at businesses in their area if they’re allowed to pay by card. 1 in 4 have even forgone purchases completely when card payments aren’t available.

This means that businesses without card readers are missing out on huge chunks of potential revenue.

It’s a trend that’s grossly underestimated by business owners, with 44% believing you don’t miss out on sales by being cash-only.

Cashless cuisine

On the other side of the coin (or should we say card?), one of the UK’s first cashless restaurants, Yamabahce, just opened in Marylebone.

The new restaurant, founded by Alan Yau, the culinary brain behind Wagamama, will serve pide – a type of Turkish pizza – only to customers willing to pay by card. This follows in the footsteps of the Browns of Brockley, our first cashless café, and Tossed, our first cashless salad bar.

Firms like these set the pace as the cash economy dwindles. Cash forms just 7% of transactions by value in the UK, where most financial transactions are now made by card.

Closing the tech gap

The Square survey also revealed that three quarters of small business owners are finding it tougher to operate, as regulations shift rapidly and competition gets ever fiercer.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that SME’s make use of every edge they can. Card payments are just one of the many ways small businesses can find themselves outcompeted by corporations and chains. It’s up to business owners to close that gap.