The rise, fall and future of cash

By Teamspirit on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Walking down the street close to the office, a small, white sign catches our eye. The shiny shop window is mostly empty, with the exception of this brave little announcement: “Now a cashless store.”

The idea of a cashless society has been in the making for some time now – since perhaps the 80s and 90s. A member of our team distinctly remembers their mother declaring she was like the queen while at the tills: “I don’t carry money, honey.” And this trend has continued ever since. Governments have even dabbled in this area, although India getting rid of its low denomination notes did end in total chaos.

Nowadays, Fintech innovations and initiatives are still rising fast. Everything is direct debit this, contactless that. And now it seems entire stores are banning the paper and metal equivalent, leaving those that rely on cash vulnerable. Entire swathes of people may no longer be able to perform vital tasks like paying bills at the post office or corner shop. So the elderly, disabled, and homeless may well need more protection in the future.

Thankfully, it seems we’re still a long way off a completely cashless existence. In the UK in particular, there are still huge numbers of people who mostly use cash. In fact, that number has increased to 2.7 million in just two short years, meaning there’s still hope for those who need it. This is entirely the opposite of Sweden whose population only uses cash for 19% of payments. The country may even see their last note handed back to banks by 2030.

There are upsides to ditching cash, like increased security for stores and peace of mind for those who seem to lose those slippery £5 notes left, right and centre. On the other hand, data breaches are a source of anxiety that can’t be ignored. Cases like Cambridge Analytica continue to make people nervous about the misuse and compromise of data.

There are arguments for and against the way to world seems to be turning. And much like the investments made using both currency systems around the world, only time will reveal the real results.

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