OPINION: ‘It’s time to embrace digital payments as a weapon against dodgy actors’

Paula Roberts, payments expert at B4B Payments, discusses the potential benefits in digital transformation of payments in the waste industry.

OPINION: The scrap metal recycling industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, embracing modern forms of digital payments that streamline operations and play a vital role in preventing metal crime in the sector.

From disrupted rail services to desecrated war memorials and damaged church roofs, “metal theft costs the UK economy half a billion pounds yearly and – £4.3bn since 2013”, said the “Tackling Metal Theft” report.

Traditionally, the scrap metal recycling industry has been primarily cash-based, with transactions often occurring in physical locations and involving large sums of money. This method presented numerous challenges, including the risk of theft, counterfeiting, and the potential for money laundering activities. Furthermore, the need for digital records made tracking transactions easier and ensured compliance with regulations.

Since the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was signed to combat illegal activities, digital payment solutions have become a powerful tool for promoting transparency and accountability for scrap metal dealers and traders. It has made it more challenging for dodgy actors to do business with legitimate dealers. Still, more to be achieved, as the report stated that up to 60 organised crime groups were active and accounted for most metal theft crimes.


However, modern payment technologies have revolutionised the industry, offering a more secure, efficient, and compliant way of conducting business. Digital payment platforms and mobile applications have become increasingly prevalent, enabling scrap metal businesses to conduct business payments through various channels, including prepaid cards, mobile wallets, and faster online transfers.

One of the most significant benefits of digital payment solutions is their enhanced traceability and transparency. All transactions are digitally recorded, creating an audit trail that’s easy to access and analyse. This level of transparency helps prevent metal crime and ensures compliance with relevant regulations and expected industry standards, thereby promoting accountability in the industry.

For example, by implementing digital payment systems, scrap metal dealers can effectively track the origin of materials and detailed seller information and ensure that they are not inadvertently processing stolen or illegally obtained scrap.

Moreover, digital payment solutions enable scrap metal businesses to keep a detailed record of transactions, which may include the identities of suppliers and buyers. Such information can be shared with relevant authorities to assist in investigations, prosecutions, or other illegal activities. This capability helps disrupt the supply chain of metal crime and discourage dodgy actors from approaching their business for the sale of stolen valuable metals.

‘Prevents waste crime’

Adopting digital payment solutions in the scrap metal recycling industry prevents waste crime and creates operational efficiencies and cost savings. By eliminating the need to handle and transport large amounts of cash, recyclers can reduce the risks associated with theft and minimise the costs of secure cash handling and transportation, thereby improving their bottom line.

Furthermore, digital payment platforms often provide advanced reporting and analytics capabilities, allowing recyclers to gain valuable insights into their operations, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to optimise their processes and improve profitability.

As the industry evolves, integrating modern payment solutions like Bread4Scrap has become essential in the fight against metal crime for thousands of scrap businesses across the UK. It helps them build a business that is compliant with regulations and makes business payments for accounting teams easier. By embracing these technologies, recyclers enhance operational efficiency and contribute to a more transparent and accountable industry, safeguarding the environment and upholding ethical business practices.

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