Cashless is Where It’s At and I Couldn’t Be Happier

 

Are you using cash less often these days? I definitely am. Since May (when I started using Venmo), my ATM visits have dropped from once every 2 weeks to once every 2 months!

  • My credit card usage has not changed but I am using Venmo constantly both to pay and receive money.
  • Even my cleaning person now accepts Venmo which has been a huge plus (and the biggest reason for the decline in my ATM usage).

I only need cash now for my forays into Chinatown to do my fruit and vegetable shopping. Street vendors are keeping it real and staying cash-only – at least for now.

But cash’s days are definitely numbered. Even restaurants which have historically preferred to be cash-only, are now going cash-free.

Read on below for more on the trend to cashless and the brands and countries leading the way.

 

We’re becoming a cashless society

  • Cash currently accounts for 30% of U.S. retail personal spending falling from 40% in 2012.
  • Facebook recently added a peer-to-peer payment option with its Messenger service
  • Apple’s iOS11 includes an upgrade to ApplePay allowing users to send money to each other via text message.
  • Visa will issue its “Cashless Cities: Realizing the Benefits of Digital Payments later this year. Preliminary data from the report states that if 100 cities went cashless they would accrue net benefits of $312 billion annually.

 

Restaurants: Going cashless for efficiency, security and food safety.

  • Visa recently offered 50 small restaurants $10,000 each to go cashless. The restaurants were picked by lottery and will receive free upgraded checkout terminals that accept contactless payments e.g. Apple Pay.
  • One small restaurant in NYC told the WSJ that its manager saves 23 hours each week by going all-cards.
  • Other restaurant chains note their employees were spending 6-10 hrs a day managing cash e.g. counting the cash till, making bank deposit trips, closing registers at the end of the night.
  • Restaurants going cashless include Sweetgreen, Daily Provisions (one of Danny Meyer’s places), Argo Tea (which started testing cashless operations in May but seems to be running into a few hiccups especially in Chicago).
  • After repeat armed robberies a Baltimore restaurateur, David Hart, owner of Park Cafe & Coffee Bar, went cash-free saying: “Baltimore has its problems with increasing opioid and addiction problems. Without cash on hand (robberies) have now disappeared.”
  • Handling cash has proven to be a major source of food contamination. Who knew money was so dirty?

 

Google is going big into Asia’s mobile payment scene with Tez

Google just launched a new mobile money app called Tez in India, the world’s fastest growing smartphone market with a user base of over 300 million.

  • “Tez” which means fast in Hindi, lets users link up their bank accounts to their phones, paying store merchants and instantly transferring money to friends.
  • Tez works with India’s national Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a payment system backed by the government and 19 major banks in the country.
  • What’s unique about Tez is it has the support of huge banks, ensuring it will work for the vast majority of users in India, allowing them to transfer money to each other regardless of bank provider.
  • Since 53% of all Indians have bank accounts, but only 2% have credit cards this is a very smart strategic move by Google to let Tez users link up their phones to their bank accounts, unlike apps like Apple Pay, which link to credit or debit cards
  • Tez’s “cash mode” option offers proximity-based transfers, and searches for another smartphone nearby with the Tez app. You can then send or receive money from whoever’s beside you (limit of $1,560 in transfers in one day).

 

Countries Going Cashless

Sweden is leading the pack, predicted to become the world’s first truly cash-free society.

  • Cash transactions have decreased to just 3% – even donating money at church is done via card.
  • Over half of Sweden’s banks do not keep any cash on hand. Bank robberies dropped to 16 in 2011 from 110 in 2008.

 

In Norway you buy street food and newspapers via mobile banking.

  • DNB, the largest bank in Norway, called for the public to stop using cash earlier this year. Several banks don’t even give out cash to customers.

 

In Denmark, one-third of the population use MobilePay.

  • Retail businesses are legally free to refuse cash payments from customers.
  • The Danish government has set a 2030 deadline to completely do away with paper money.

 

India has instituted a cash ban as Prime Minister Modi moves to demonetize the country.

  • A 2015 report from MasterCard found that India was one of the countries least ready to transition to a digital payment system.
  • Yet, 12 months later such a system was rolled out.
  • If the transition to a digital society can happen in India, where just 2% of transactions were non-cash a few years ago, it can happen anywhere.

 

In Somaliland, one of Africa’s poorest countries, more people opt for electronic banking than in most developed countries. Even street vendors accept mobile payments.

 

In Kenya, 15 million users are subscribed to M-Pesa, a cellphone-based money transfer app.

  • Used for sending money to rural areas, paying bills, school fees.
  • People receive their salaries via this app.
  • The usage of cash is becoming obsolete in Kenya.

 

In Canada, 90% of the population opt for cashless transactions, while an average of 70% of payments is conducted by cards.

  • No new currency has been printed in Canada since January 1, 2013 because of the lack of demand of new money in the market.
  • 56% prefer online wallets to carrying cash.

 

AND THEN, THERE’S GERMANY, MY MOTHERLAND:

Germany is one place where cash remains very popular. Many cafes and small restaurants refuse to accept cards.

  • The idea of abolishing cash is an abomination,” wrote a 52-year-old activist against the proposal of a cashless society in Germany.

Here’s how Germany was described in a recent US report: “a nation that prides itself on thriftiness, paying its bills, avoiding debts and even shunning credit cards.”

Yup, I can vouch for that.

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