The pandemic is changing payment culture as we know it

COVID-19 is changing the way SMEs take payments, with the use of cash payments having halved and online card payments rising by a quarter during the pandemic, according to the latest independent research from Close Brothers Asset Finance.

The combined effect of lockdown restricting peoples movement and shops having shut their doors has necessitated a change in behaviour,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing.

Even with the relaxation of lockdown measures its unlikely well see a return to levels of cash usage we saw pre-lockdown; we anticipate the use of online payments will continue to surge as people rely more on online transactions for their goods and shopping.

Cash usage has dropped by 45% across all industries surveyed, with traditional cash-handling sectors, Retail (52%) and Services (44%), showing strong falls.  

Using less cash holds little fear for business owners, with only a combined total of 10% saying it will make them feel either unsafeor very unsafe. The two primary challenges SMEs think they will face by using less cash in their business are online security and technology failure.

For many small businesses, taking online payments is a new experience,said Neil. You only have to look at the number of off-licences and takeaways that have made the switch to see for yourself how COVID-19 is driving behaviour change.

With that, understandably, comes a concern about security and reliability and because of this cash payments will have a role to play for a long time yet.

Despite the concerns, when asked the question what do you think is the main benefit of using less cash in your business?, 26% cited payments are more secureas the primary advantage, along with easier for accounting (27%).

Q: What do you think is the main benefit of using less cash in your business?

Easier for accounting - 27%

Payments are more secure - 26%

It’s more hygienic - 15%

Reduced threat of physical theft - 15%

None of the above - 14%

More sales data available - 3%

Startup Details

Startup Details


Close Brothers Asset Finance

Founded in 1987 by a team of finance specialists, Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing has grown to become a large asset finance company in the UK. While the team may have grown, the same founding principles remain - the company provides finance for businesses, Close Brothers Asset Finance fully understand and offer practical solutions that enable them to succeed.

  • Headquarters Regions
    London, UK
  • Founded Date
  • Founders
    William Brooks Close
  • Operating Status
  • Number of Employees