Businesses in Batley and Spenborough look set to be handed a boost as an initiative led by Tracy Brabin MP could see them given free card payment machines.
The ‘Digital Batley and Spen’ initiative will see interested businesses equipped with free card reading machines and will be rolled out across the constituency this autumn.
A public meeting with Ms Brabin and a representative from the company is to be held at 6pm on Wednesday 29th August at Cleckheaton Town Hall. The initiative comes after an initial public meeting in Heckmondwike in June in response to community concerns following the announcement the town is to lose its last remaining bank.
The technology company Square has now agreed to provide businesses across Batley and Spen with free credit and debit card readers worth £58+VAT along with free processing credit for the first £1,000 of transactions.
Tracy Brabin MP said: “The regrettable closure of bank branches across Batley and Spen is a huge blow for members of the public and businesses alike so it’s important that we do what we can to mitigate the impact and encourage people to shop local.
“Smaller, independent cash-only businesses are often the ones worst affected by bank closures so I want ensure they know what options are out there so they do not miss out on vital trade.
“I’m pleased that after our initial public meeting in Heckmondwike we are now able to roll this out across the whole of Batley and Spen.
“If we are to reinvigorate our local towns we need to be forward-thinking and embrace new technologies or run the risk of being left behind.”
The meeting is open to all business owners across the constituency - from hairdressers to window cleaners, builders, shops, cafes and more - and there will be staff from Square on hand to answer questions and give demos.
Jonathan Wall runs Photoshoot in Market Place, Heckmondwike and has been taking card payments with Square since last year. He said: “People don’t carry much cash any more, especially with the bank closures, so taking card payments is really important for small business like mine.
"I started taking card payments with Square because we didn't want to be tied into a long-term contract. With Square I only pay when you a customer uses it, and I get my money the next working day, so it is good for cashflow as well.
“I'd definitely recommend it, and I'm pleased to hear that this offer is being made available to businesses across the area.”
Kate McCutchen is the Head of Marketing for Square in the UK. She said: “We all want to shop locally, but with less cash in our pockets, it can be hard to support businesses that don’t take cards. We’re excited to be working with Tracy Brabin MP to offer card payments technology and training to the businesses of Batley and Spen, and hope it will be a positive step for the small businesses as they adjust to the closure of the banks.
“We encourage anyone who is interested to come along to the meeting, where we can take you through how it all works and answer any questions you might have.”
The scheme is modelled on a similar initiative run in the town of Holywell in North Wales, a previously cash-heavy town that was hit by multiple bank closures. After the launch of the scheme, the town’s card acceptance rates increase to 91% and the town’s innovative approach to adopting new technologies saw them featured by the BBC, the New York Times and The Times newspaper.
Interested business owners are invited to the public meeting at 6pm on Wednesday 29th August at Cleckheaton Town Hall, Bradford Road, Cleckheaton, BD19 3RH.