There has been much talk in recent years concerning the perceived move towards a cashless society – an increasing tendency to remove physical cash from general circulation and replace it with more modern, electronic forms of payment. This trend is now being increasingly shown through the difficulty in accessing cash together with a push from the banks and larger corporations to provide consumers with contactless alternatives. What is driving this movement? What is motivating central banks and governments to bring about such a change?
A recent report in the UK was commissioned to look into the challenges posed by the move towards a cashless society. Its latest publication describes how ten years ago, six out of every ten transactions were carried out in cash. Now it’s three in ten. They further predict that in just another decade it could be as low as just one in ten! Figure 1 presents the present and projected decline in the cash value of transactions for seven major economies. The trend is clear for all to see.
Figure 1: Cash market share by country (Source: UK finance and Euromonitor)
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