“Just think of the value to society: no more cash to worry, or waiting for change, and no more muggings. This is the cashless society we have been dreaming of for years” Jeffrey O. Milman’s letter to the New York Times, June 20th 1999

A prediction made far ahead of its time, but one becoming more of a reality than ever before. Statistics from the World Payment Report in 2015 show a dramatic increase in card and electronic purchases over the past few years, peaking at 7.6% since 2013. According to the Payments Council, the number of cash purchases dropped from over 50% to 48% in the last year alone.

Instead, consumers are increasingly opting for payments made using cards, mobile and contactless technology as ‘cashless society’ becomes the new byword for the future of purchasing across the whole globe.

With more and more countries on the brink of removing physical cash from their economy, Worldpay Global Payments Report predicts that, by 2019, it will be the norm for primary spending to be paperless. The country making the greatest progress is Sweden, with its Central Bank estimating that only 3% of transactions are made using physical currency. Ironically, Sweden was the first European country to print and use paper money.

But why a world without cash? What are the benefits?

Banks save a great deal of money by sidestepping the ongoing costs of physical money such as printing, transport and storage. Five out of the largest six banks in Sweden now operate cashless branches, with the country estimated to become completely cashless by 2030.  Tech companies are also trying to get in on the action, with introductions such as ApplePay and Google Wallet.

As you might expect, bank related crime has tumbled quite dramatically. In 2012, only 21 bank robberies were reported in Sweden, halving since 2011, and was the lowest since 1975. In 2013, a Swedish bank robber tried to force a bank to give him money, but was left disappointed on discovering the bank did not deal with cash anymore.  

The impact of declining cash-use has become so pronounced in Sweden that the homeless have been given card readers by Situation Stockholm to sell freely distributed newspapers and receive money from potential donors.

Moreover, charities have had to adapt to keep up with this growing global trend. The Busking Project, in Britain, recently launched a URL that enables performers to accept a cashless payments to prevent the practice dying out.

Back in Sweden, even churches have begun to implement card readers for their worshippers’ offerings for their upkeep.

Currently 48% of all UK consumer payments are made in cash and this is expected to fall to 34% by 2024 with cashless methods continuing to grow.

Further statistics suggest that, today, a staggering 4.4% of adults rarely use cash at all, and 5 out of 10 British people under 25 have never written a cheque.

Do you believe a cashless economy is the future as Jeffrey O. Milman did in 1999?

The benefits do outweigh the cost, literally.

Richard Dunnett - Pockit Team -

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Team @ Pockit