According the ICT, 95% of the world’s population in 2016 had access to a cellular network, but in rural areas only 67% have access to 3G broadband (versus 84% in urban areas). Moreover, 53% of the world’s population still doesn’t use the internet. For example, 75% of the population in Africa is offline compared to only 21% in Europe (ICT, Facts and Figures 2016).
More importantly, there are still 2 billion adults worldwide (15 yrs +) who are unbanked, equal to 38% of the world’s population (World Bank, Global Findex Database).
What would these people do, if cash were to disappear?
For people living in remote or rural areas, cash acts as a tool of exchange but also as a store of value. Thanks to cash, they don’t need to worry about a faulty internet connection, an uncharged mobile phone or the distance to the nearest bank: all their earnings can be stored and used when the need arises.
But what are often ignored are cash’s inclusive properties. Cash can be used by all regardless of age, gender or financial situation. A rich CEO can exchange it with the owner of the corner store. A homeless person can collect it to pay for a bed at the local shelter. A child can exchange it for candy at the country fair. Indeed, children account for 27% of the world’s population and they are, for the majority, unbanked (UNDP, World Population Prospects).
Cash payments work anywhere, at any time and with all economic agents. The technology is embedded in the notes and coins.