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Cashless Economy: A Financial Trend or Societal Faux Pas?

Categories : Cash is the first step of financial inclusion
January 16, 2019
Tags : accessibility, Cash, Financial inclusion
In recent years, digital payments have gained traction as a convenient tool for making transactions, but can these payments truly adapt to all societies? And what are the implications for those who fully rely on cash?
Communication Team / Equipo de Comunicación

This post is also available in: Spanish

Some people are calling it innovative efficiency. Others view it as intentional discrimination. However way you see it, the facts are speaking loud and clear in showing How the Cashless Economy Shuts Out the Poor.

It’s a well-known fact that trends are constantly evolving. However, in recent years, the use of digital payments is one of seemingly eternal appeal. Gone are the days when money made the world go round as retailers and businesses are fighting governments and consumer advocates in an ironic stand of refusing to accept cash.

This isn’t new, as we can see from Sweden’s example in leading the country to become the world’s first cashless society by March 2023. But Sweden is powered by a robust card payment system, strong internet infrastructure, easy access to mobile applications and a supportive legal framework (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), while puts unrealistic expectations on societies where people struggle on a day-to-day basis to even put a bill in their pockets.

In recent months, arguments for and against this trend have created more buzz with government officials playing a role in what looks to be society’s biggest faux pas. In November 2018, Ritchie J. Torres, a councilman from the Bronx, introduced a bill that would forbid certain businesses in New York from refusing to accept cash.

A recent publication on The Inquirer tells us how going cashless improves efficiency and reduces the risk of robbery — but that’s only one side of the story. Consumer advocates on the other hand, are more worried about the issue of social inclusion in that having a cashless business will strongly discriminate against poor customers , the unbanked and underbanked as well as senior citizens who depend on this public good.

We live in an unprecedented age wherein we are innovating ideas and methods faster than we can keep up with. The future of cash is at risk, and so are the daily lives of people.

The question now is, how can society as a whole prevent this up and coming wave of discrimination and stigmatization? And, well, as far as trends go — will good old paper bills make a strong comeback? Only time will tell.

This post is also available in: Spanish