Kensington & ChelseaNews

Portobello Road market traders fear closure if forced to go ‘cashless’

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

Traders at a famous London market say they’re being forced to go cashless and fear they’ll have to close their stalls.

Portobello Road traders claimed customers will miss out on the “authentic” market experience if stalls continue to go cashless.

JP McCormack, 41, runs the Portobello Vegan Market and fears people are losing the “elemental freedom” cash offers.

Traders fear customers will lose the ‘authentic’ market experience if they go cashless (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

He said: “Cash is important, especially for the likes of markets. It has always been cash and very rarely were card payments common.

“Cash is part of the experience of coming to a market. It’s authentic and lets you interact with people. There are a lot of people from different generations that use cash and people who prefer to use cash probably won’t come down.”

JP, who manages 20 traders, claimed a lot of people aren’t ready to go cashless. He said: “It’s a big problem for smaller businesses, especially for people who maybe don’t have a good credit score.”

Dee Mackenzi has managed an acrylics and abstract art stall on Portbello Road for the past six months. She takes cash and card but worries going cashless could scare tourists, elderly people and the homeless away.

She said: “I think it would make a huge difference to your daily takings a lot of that custom will be from tourists or there are a lot of local people who shop and literally live on the road to you know, they tell you they’re local so they will support you.

“I would perhaps have to re-evaluate my place here if I didn’t have that. Because there are so many ramifications if somebody can’t pay by cash.”

She said it was “suicidal” to push this demographic away, who she claims aren’t able to keep up with technological changes.

But bar owner Dermot Cadogan disagrees. He said taking Acklam Village to the cashless world has boosted his profits by 38 per cent in six months.

He still accepts cash but said he “hardly” takes it these days because he claims customers prefer to pay with their cards.

Dermot accepts card machine providers “have you by the short and curlies” when it comes to charging fees, but feels the pain is worth the gain.

HM Treasury said the Government has legislated to protect access to cash through the Financial Services and Markets Act of 2023, which gives the Financial Conduct Authority the power to ensure there is a “reasonable provision” of cash withdrawal and deposit “facilities” for the public and businesses.

It said the government’s Cash Access Police Statement has set out plans to ensure people and businesses in urban areas are no further then a mile away from an ATM, and three miles for rural areas.

The Treasury also said LINK, which runs the UK’s largest ATM network, has committed to protecting the spread of free-to-use ATMs.

The department added that non-cash transactions now account for 86 per cent of UK payments and expect the use of cash to reduce over the next decade.

A Government spokesperson said: “While it is the choice of businesses to determine the methods of payment they accept, for many, cash still has an important and continuing role to play as a means of paying for goods and services.

“The Government has legislated to protect access to cash withdrawal and deposit facilities for people and businesses. This will support businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they have reasonable access to facilities to deposit their cash.”

Kensington and Chelsea council was approached for comment and said it would not be issuing a statement at this time.

Pictured top: Dee Mackenzie has been trading at Portobello Road for six months and is worried going cashless will drive some customers away (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

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