Danish Retailers Allowed to Refuse Cash

As part of a so-called growth package, the Danish government has published plans to allow shops to decide for themselves if they want to accept cash payments.The move is supported by the Danish Chamber of Commerce, which says that it is about time that shops be given the option of going cash-free. ‘Society has changed so much that there is no longer a need for requirements on cash payments. Plus, cash has become tremendously expensive to handle due to security reasons,’ commented a Chamber spokesman. 

The government’s proposal applies to restaurants, clothing stores and petrol stations, which would no longer have to abide by a rule forcing them to accept cash. Grocery stores, post offices, places selling prescription drugs, doctors and dentists would still have to accept physical money under the plan, which needs parliamentary approval. Explaining its proposal, the government says that accepting cash puts a considerable financial and administrative burden on retailers. At the same time Danes are turning to debit cards and other electronic payment options.

Almost all debit payments in Denmark are made with a single nationwide card, Dankort, and the popularity of a single cash alternative in the country undoubtedly contributes to the perception that it is an obvious alternative to cash. If approved, stores could be rejecting cash by next January.

But Dutch retailers hold the faith

In the Netherlands, meanwhile, a survey by the Dutch central bank among 1,340 retailers has shown that a large majority do not actively discourage their customers from making cash payments, and that over 80% believe customer preference should always be accommodated. 100% of retailers accept cash, while not all accept debit cards, and a relatively small number accept credit cards.

In general, retailers prefer debit card payments for reasons of safety and cost, but believe offering different payment options is good customer service. Moreover, they see cash offering some advantages over other payment instruments, including immediacy of the money in the till, the ability to pay out from tills and also the availability of alternative forms of payment in the event of payment terminal malfunctions. Some 60% of those surveyed had experienced a malfunction in the previous six months (rising, in the case of petrol stations) to 96%.

However in spite of this cautious thumbs-up, some respondents – albeit a small minority – do not expect to be using cash in five years’ time.

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