Card Acceptance

Has the idea of a cashless society finally moved away from the theoretical and into the plausible? It would certainly seem so if a number of surveys in 2015 are to be believed. According to the Payments Council, in 2014 for the first time cash became less popular than cards as a means of payment although it still did account for 48% of all transactions.

A separate survey by the Halifax in April of this year revealed that amongst its customers cash withdrawals accounted for just £18.33 of every £100 spent. Debit cards at £30 and faster payments at £15 were also proving increasingly popular according to the Halifax analysis.

The UK may not have gone as far as Denmark which earlier this year proposed a law which would allow businesses to refuse to accept cash for transactions but it does seem that we are well on the way towards seeing cash as simply one method of payment rather than as the main payment option. The launch of Apple Pay in the UK last week can only add to the range of payment options and encourage people to choose the most appropriate payment method for each transaction.

The increased acceptance of cards as a payment method is also good news for those organisations which seek to move their customers away from cash and cheque and towards alternative payment means such as credit and debit cards. Being able to take card details at the time of booking helps those businesses which rely on appointments to secure payment. This is particularly appropriate in the independent health sector where no-shows can cost physiotherapists, osteopaths and others both time and income.

Interestingly it has been found that taking card details at the time of booking helps to improve attendance rates.  It seems as though there is something about having handed over card details that acts as a reminder to attend booked appointments.  Add on an appointment reminder either by SMS text or phone and the chances of clients turning up for treatments are increased; or at the very least clients may be prompted to get in touch to cancel, enabling replacement bookings to be made.

For those few who still fail to make it to their appointment, the fact that card details have been taken in advance enables the practitioner to take a no-show fee in accordance with advertised practice. Once card details have been taken either on the telephone or via an online booking system, the card can be pre-authorised, effectively reserving a balance to be taken once the appointment has been completed. Should the client opt to use a different card or pay by cheque on the day, the preauthorisation can simply be cancelled.  Either way, the invoice delay time is effectively eliminated, helping to streamline cash flow.

We may have some way to go until we are a fully cashless society but the more that options such as secure card payment processing move into the mainstream, the closer we will get; whilst at the same time having the added bonus of enabling businesses to reduce no-shows and smooth out their cash flow.