The rise of cashless businesses in the post-pandemic era has been a source of convenience for many customers, but for some, it has created a new barrier. Families of people with learning disabilities are calling out the discrimination that cashless businesses impose on their relatives who rely on cash payments.
According to a petition signed by over 1,200 people, vulnerable adults are struggling to pay for basic necessities as many businesses continue to stick to a cashless model. The petition urges the Welsh government to ensure that individuals with learning disabilities have access to cash payment options.
Janet, whose son Siôn has a learning disability, shared her experience of the challenges that come with cashless transactions. Siôn was left "devastated" when he couldn't pay for a meal for his mum using cash. "If it's a card, it's harder to keep track of what you're spending," Janet explained, adding that the experience had a significant impact on her son.
The move towards cashless transactions has been on the rise for several years, but the pandemic accelerated this trend as businesses sought to reduce the risk of virus transmission. As a result, more establishments have become cashless or reduced their cash-handling operations, which has made it difficult for people with learning disabilities who rely on cash payments to access goods and services.
This situation highlights the urgent need for businesses to consider the impact of their decisions on customers with disabilities. The move towards cashless transactions is not inherently wrong, but businesses should take a more inclusive approach that takes into account the diverse needs of all their customers.
Many countries have recognized the impact of cashless businesses on people with disabilities and have taken measures to ensure accessibility. For example, in the UK, the government passed the Accessible Information Standard, which requires businesses to provide accessible formats of information to people with disabilities, including payment options.
It's time for businesses to take similar steps to ensure that everyone can access their services, regardless of their payment preferences. The move towards a cashless society should not come at the expense of inclusivity and accessibility for people with disabilities. As we emerge from the pandemic, it's important to build a more inclusive society that considers the needs of everyone.