Before the initiative, 95 per cent of sellers on Darwen Market only accepted cash. However, the town has seen four banks close over the last two years amid statistics showing that the UK is becoming less reliant on cash.

Only 13 per cent of people visited a cash machine in the last month and 81 per cent said they’d be more inclined to shop locally if they knew paying by card was an option, says Square.

The project was officially launched this week with the dedicated site Square.com/Darwen and training and sign up sessions for business owners.

Liam Dargan, founder of community initiative Heart of Darwen, said: “We know that shoppers aren’t carrying as much cash these days. After conducting research with The Darrener, we realised that many of the businesses in town were still cash-only. Younger demographics often don’t carry any cash at all, and with two high schools/colleges in the town centre, it’s even more important that we encourage them to spend money locally.

“Realising that more businesses needed to start taking card payments, I approached Square to ask if they would be help by providing their card readers to Darwen’s businesses free of charge. They agreed, and I’m excited to be partnering with them to roll out the technology to shops and stalls across the town. We’ve got more initiatives in the pipeline so hopefully these will continue to make a positive impact on the town and it’s businesses.”

Square has provided all businesses with a free credit and debit card reader, which pairs with mobile phones and tablets. It is also providing free processing credit for the first £1,000 of transactions made by businesses, along with dedicated training and marketing support. Businesses receive their money the next working day as standard, and can pay a fee to make use of Square’s Instant Deposit feature.

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