Credit card giant Visa is plotting an early end to cash by offering UK retailers tens of thousands of pounds to only accept electronic payments.
A programme to pay retailers $10,000 (£7,700) if they ditch cash payments has already been launched in the US. Visa will then hope to recoup the costs through collecting more fees on electronic transactions.
Visa head of global merchant services Jack Forestell told the Daily Telegraph: “We have an incredible opportunity to educate merchants and consumers alike on the effectiveness of going cashless.”
The comments follow remarks by Visa chief exec Al Kelly who told investors last month the firm was "focussed on putting cash out of business".
However, consumer groups warned some of Britain’s most vulnerable people, the elderly and those unable to obtain credit cards, could be hit by a premature jettison of cash.
“Visa appears to be bribing companies to stop using cash more quickly than they would otherwise, in order to make more money,” said Fairer Finance director James Daley.
“That rings alarm bells with me. It is in a hurry to get rode of cash but it should remember that many of the people who rely on it are the most vulnerable in society.”
Conservative MP said plans to run such a campaign in the UK should be reported to authorities.
“It is essentially the behaviour of a monopolist and I do not think it should happen,” he told Mailonline.
“People should be entitled to settle their bills using legal tender.”