Tesco opens its first cashless store with contactless and Apple Pay

Tesco opens its first cashless store with contactless pay but experts say it leaves vulnerable shoppers frozen out

  • The cashless Tesco Express, on High Holborn, central London, opened yesterday
  • It lets customers pay using contactless cards and Apple Pay at self-service tills
  • Tesco said it wanted feedback before considering rolling out the idea elsewhere 

Tesco has opened its first cashless store.

The Tesco Express, on High Holborn, central London, which opened yesterday allows customers to pay using contactless cards and Apple Pay at self-service tills.

But Natalie Ceeney, who led an independent review of consumer access to cash last year, said major retailers rushing to end cash payments could ‘seriously impact the lives of many people, particularly the more vulnerable’.

UK Finance, the industry body, predicts that notes and coins will be used for only 9 per cent of payments by 2028, down from 28 per cent in 2018 and 60 per cent in 2008. 

The Tesco Express, on High Holborn, central London, which opened yesterday allows customers to pay using contactless cards and Apple Pay at self-service tills

Tesco said: ‘We’re pleased to be opening this cashless store to help customers to check out and pay quickly.’  

The 101-year old Tesco, which trades from 3,787 stores in Britain and Ireland, chose the High Holborn store for the trial because it serves a high concentration of office workers. 

It said it wanted feedback before considering rolling out the idea elsewhere.

Tesco has previously said some of its convenience stores in Britain were already only receiving 20% of payments by cash, making a cashless roll-out likely in future.

The Bank of England said debit cards overtook cash as the most frequently used payment method in Britain in 2017 and it forecasts that alternatives to cash will become ever more widely accepted and used.

Tesco has previously said some of its convenience stores in Britain were already only receiving 20% of payments by cash, making a cashless roll-out likely in future

But there are notes worth more than 70 billion pounds in circulation in Britain and the central bank remains committed to cash. Although cash use is falling, it says many poorer and more vulnerable people still prefer notes and coins.

US online giant Amazon has been experimenting with checkout-free grocery stores since 2018. Amazon Go relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove and put back from shelves. Customers are billed on leaving the store using credit cards held on file.

Tesco’s main UK rival Sainsbury’s trailed a till-free grocery store in April, with shoppers using its SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go app. The shop still had a helpdesk for customers who wished to pay with cash or cards.

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