A Guide to Using Cashless Payments in Your Business

How can you make sure you’re trending in the same direction as your customers? Ensure you’re never losing out on these sales by equipping your business with a cashless payment system that benefits you and your customers in the quickest and most modern way.


For decades, small business owners have been told that “cash is king”, but that landscape is changing rapidly. Modern consumers are turning more and more to cashless payment methods when buying everything from a cup of tea to pricy electronics. In fact, for the first time in history, cashless business has overtaken cash purchases, with credit and debit card sales making up nearly 80 percent of transactions. Official data from UK Finance shows that only one in six payments today involves notes or coins, compared to one in two a decade previously.

Now more than ever, your business has to be prepared to handle cashless transactions in order to stay up to date with what your customers want and not miss out on what could potentially be a large percentage of your business. Being set up to handle all types of cashless transactions, including contactless and mobile, is essential in a world where consumers are increasingly reliant on these types of payment methods. Additionally, ensuring a secure online payment experience is crucial, and implementing 3D Secure, an authentication protocol that adds an extra layer of protection during online transactions.

In the UK, the transition to a cashless society is happening at an accelerated pace. Research conducted by money.co.uk, a leading personal finance website, placed the UK fourth in terms of cashless countries across Europe, behind only Finland, Switzerland and Norway. More than nine in 10 Brits over the age of 15 own a debit card and 65% own a credit card.

How can you make sure you’re trending in the same direction as your customers? Ensure you’re never losing out on these sales by equipping your business with a cashless payment solution that benefits you and your customers in the quickest and most modern way.

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What are cashless payments?

The first step to implementing cashless payments for your small business is understanding what they are and how they work for your business. Cashless transactions are conducted electronically and without the use of paper or coin currency. There are several different types of cashless payment systems, including:

Cards: When customers use credit or debit cards, whether they’re tapped or inserted using chip technology, this is a cashless payment.

Digital wallets and more: Digital or mobile wallets can include Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and more, and are found on phones and other devices like smart watches to be used as NFC or contactless payments.

What is contactless payment?

You’ll find a lot of information detailing exactly what is contactless payment, but in short, contactless payments are those that require no physical contact between the customer’s card or device and the POS system during the transaction. These transactions are also a form of cashless payments. You may have heard these payments called NFC (near field communication) transactions because of the technology used within the point of sale process.

How do contactless payments work? When users hold their card or device within 10 centimetres of the payment reader, a radio frequency enables communication between the card or device and the card reader encrypted data is sent for processing. In the current climate, many customers prefer a contactless cashless payment solution for hygiene reasons as this minimises indirect contact between consumers and staff.

The limit on tap-and-go spending increased from £30 to £45 in 2020 in response to an increased need for minimal contact spending. In the most recent Budget, the government confirmed plans to increase this further to a £100 per transaction limit coming into effect 15 October 2021. With a higher spending allowance per transaction, it seems likely that consumers will increase their frequency of contactless payments. This makes it even more important for businesses of all shapes and sizes to be able to facilitate contactless payments.

What are the benefits of a cashless business system?

As a small business owner, if you aren’t accepting credit cards or other forms of cashless payments, you’re missing a huge piece of the pie. Here’s why you should be using a cashless payment system and make sure you never miss a sale.

1. It’s what your customers want

A recent survey from Mastercard shows that nearly half of all Brits carry less than £5 in their wallets, making cashless transactions even more important to your business. Consumers want cashless payment options when they shop — in fact, 27 percent of customers said they haven’t bought something from a shop solely because the establishment didn’t take cards.

Not offering cashless transactions affects the way shoppers view your business, too. More than a quarter of recently surveyed customers reported labelling shops who didn’t take card payments as “old fashioned”. This research also revealed that 60 percent of shoppers said they are more likely to patronise a local small business if they take cashless payments.

2. It’s Faster

Few things can feel more frustrating to a potential customer (and employee) than a growing queue of people, with lagging service due to a slow shop till. Cashless payment system transactions are much quicker than counting out change and waiting on shoppers to fish the proper bill from their wallets. Plus, you can even turn on features like ‘skip the receipt’ to speed up your queue during busier times. You’ll have your happy customers on their way in no time in comparison.

3. It’s Easy

Cashless transactions couldn’t be simpler for your customers. All it takes is a tap of their card or mobile device on your payment terminal and processing is finished in seconds. It’s fast, efficient, and leaves no need to fish about for coins for change.

4. It’s Safe

Cashless payment systems offer a safer alternative to keeping a till of paper currency on site. It reduces the risk and safety concerns to both your employees and your business. Plus, Square’s processing encrypts data in its cashless transactions to ensure your customers are protected as well.

How to make the move towards a cashless business

With as many as three in every five Brits confirming they’d rather pay with a card than cash, it has never been more important to support the cashless society as a UK small business. Providing customers with options when it comes to ways to pay keeps your business current, customer-minded, and efficient.

How do you take steps to implement an effective cashless system?

  • Consider what you need. Do you have a way to process payments beyond cash? If not, you’ll need a cashless payment system.

  • Think about what your customers require. Considering most UK shoppers are now “card-only” or “card-first” customers, meaning they prefer to only use cards as payment or will always try to use a card before cash. Cashless payment options are more and more becoming a necessary element of a business.

  • Talk to your staff. A new system requires some staff training, but Square’s offerings are quick to learn and easy to use. Shortening queues during busy times and getting customers through cashless transactions faster can benefit your employees as well.

What are the components of a cashless business system?

To get properly set up to support a cashless payment system for your small business, you’ll need a few things to get started:

  • Virtual Terminal: In order to begin taking cashless payments, you’ll need a way to process credit cards. This can be performed manually with a virtual terminal, which turns a web browser on your computer into a credit card terminal. This is best for cashless transactions done via telephone or for remote billing.

  • Card Reader: Take contactless payments through Square’s card reader to save time and create efficiency for your small business. Square Reader allows you to safely and quickly process chip and pin cards as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay cashless payments through smart phones and devices for just £19 + VAT.

  • Payment Terminal: If you prefer to have an all-in-one, cordless payment terminal that can go anywhere in your business and collect cashless payments, this device is for you. From accepting PIN numbers to printing receipts, Square Terminal can do it all in one place.

  • Invoicing Software: If your business accepts delayed payments you may benefit from Square Invoicing software. This allows small business owners to generate and monitor bills and invoices quickly and efficiently, with powerful reporting tools to help manage cashflow.

  • Online Store: Online sales in the UK alone grew by 36.6% in 2020, with customers increasingly turning to online businesses to meet their needs. Adding an Online Store to your business therefore has the potential to increase sales significantly, including using digital payment methods.

It’s time to grow your business and never miss a cashless payment sale again. If you are still a cash-only business today, there’s no better time to consider a move to a cashless payment system than now.

Square is here to help get you prepared for the transition into your new way of doing business. Whether you’re looking to become a completely cashless business or just want to be able to accept contactless payments for health and safety, Square can get you there with more payment solutions that are right for your small business.