The use of non-cash transactions began in the 1990s when electronic banking became popular. By the 2010s, digital payments like PayPal and Smartphone were in daily use.
1. A reduction in crime involving cash – muggings, burglaries, bank robberies and corruption (money laundering, cash bribes etc).
2. As new innovations, such as NFC (Near Field Communication) technology i.e. contactless payment and AVS (Address Verification Service) electronically check the card user to their address to give more security.
3. Cashless transactions help ease the everyday management of money for businesses and individuals.
4. Travelling abroad becomes easier as it removes the need to physically exchange different currencies.
5. The reduction of transmittable diseases as there would be no contact with multi-use notes and coins. As an aside, cashless payments became very popular during the Covid pandemic for more than just lockdown factors.
1. The lack of guaranteed privacy. As all transactions are recorded, this gives access to companies and information gatherers to monitor your spending habits. This data could in turn be used to control you in as far as what you can and cannot spend your money on. For example, health insurance providers using the information to assess your suitability for cover - do you buy too much alcohol/coffee/fast food etc?
2. As it is centrally controlled, the government could also observe what you do with your money (see George Orwell, 1984)
3. For small businesses, the use of cashless payments on credit cards and mobiles attracts processing fees of up to 3% - an added cost to a limited income.
4. Vulnerability to natural disasters, hacking and cyber-attacks all of which render the system useless, preventing the ability to purchase food or other goods or even pay bills.
5. For older people and/or those on low incomes (not everyone has access to or the skills to use the internet) cash is the only source of buying power and also easier to budget, i.e. ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone’.
6. Small transactions would also disappear such as children’s pocket money, babysitting payments, the ability to tip in restaurants (often tips made via card payments are kept by the owner) and for those with a social conscience, donations of cash to homeless people.
Overall, in my opinion, there are more disadvantages than advantages. The hybrid system seems to be working, so who wants to change it…and why?