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Suffolk pub is the first in the UK to go cashless

PUBLISHED: 10:17 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:17 19 September 2018

Landlord of the Boot pub Mike Keen, who says his venue in Freston near Ipswich, is the first in Britain to go cashless. Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

Landlord of the Boot pub Mike Keen, who says his venue in Freston near Ipswich, is the first in Britain to go cashless. Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

A traditional pub in Suffolk has become the first in Britain to go cashless, its landlord has said.

The Boot pub in Freston near Ipswich   Picture: Sam Russell/PA WireThe Boot pub in Freston near Ipswich Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

There are no tills at The Boot in Freston near Ipswich, and customers must pay by card or phone. There is no minimum spend per transaction.

The 1530s pub had been derelict for nine years before new landlord Mike Keen took it on and it was refurbished.

“The benefits of going cashless are huge,” said Mr Keen, 49.

Since re-opening The Boot 13 weeks ago, the story of Mr Keen’s cashless system has gone viral - “I’ve got Russian telly coming in later to interview me, and an Australian media company are calling me up today too,” he said.

A sign on the bar of the Boot pub in Freston near Ipswich  Picture: Sam Russell/PA WireA sign on the bar of the Boot pub in Freston near Ipswich Picture: Sam Russell/PA Wire

Mr Keen said that when he first came up with the idea, he hadn’t realised his pub would be the first to operate such a system.

“I was doing some consultancy work in London about opening a cashless deli - then I took on this pub project, and the idea hopped into my head,” he explained. “I just thought, why not? Others will do it too at some point - it’s inevitable.”

He said he researched other cashless businesses before opening and found few negatives, saying that some delis had gone cashless and at least one bar in Manchester, but no traditional pubs before The Boot.

“Cash has always been a pain,” he said. “You’ve got problems with theft.

“The banks charge a fortune for you to pay cash in, they take a cut of everything you pay in.

“You have to organise change, go into town, park, queue up which is another security risk or pay a firm like Securicor to pick it up. The bottom line is that we are not mucking about with cashing up, which saves us a lot of time.”

Mr Keen says that a few people have come in so far without their bank cards. “They’ve always been part of a group and someone else has paid, or they’ve gone out to pick their card up. But it hardly ever happens.”

He said the decision to go cashless means his insurance premiums are lower as cash is not kept on the premises.

The pub, which has a 12-seater cinema in an outbuilding, is focused on food and Mr Keen said there was around a 60-40 split on food versus drink sales.

The system of card machines is backed up with dongles in case there are problems with the internet connection, Mr Keen said, adding: “We’ve used them but we haven’t gone down yet.”

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