Cash Is King, Isn't It? What's The Future For Cash?

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Some say cash is disappearing; others say it is here to stay. What is the truth behind these rumours?

Well, cash is used much less than it used to be. There are so many alternative ways to pay for items that are easier and quicker than cash and many people prefer these.

There is no move, at this time, to eliminate cash, but we, the people, may unwittingly do just that, as we spend more electronic money online and less cash in physical shops.

Credit Cards and Debit Cards have been around for a long time, (as indeed has Pay Pal), but even these are changing. Credit/Debit cards can now be ‘swiped’ with no need for a PIN. Although handy, it also makes a credit card more interesting to a thief as they don’t need to know your pin in order to be able to use the card. The same applies to phone apps, handier for us, handier for a thief. Like most innovative ideas, there are both pros and cons to the usage of swipe payments, but this has not stopped them edging into the lead recently as the favourite form of payment.

As more and more people buy merchandise online, so the possibility to use cash diminishes and the use of some form of electronic payment increases.

There are ‘pro’ and ‘against’ camps in the cash debate. If cash were eliminated, crime would be lowered many believe, but is this true? Money laundering, cash buying to avoid tax or being caught buying items would nearly definitely diminish, but would cyber-crime not increase as it became more viable for hackers to steal your money, and your identity, electronically?

Electronic payments allow the government to monitor criminals better, but did Edward Snowden not blow the whistle for just such a reason? Governments were already monitoring innocent, private individuals, not just criminals and terrorists. Doing all your payment on the internet lets any entity, government or otherwise, know what you have, where you have it and so much more.

What of the elderly and poor? Many have no internet access, and wouldn’t even know how to use it if they did. More people than you might imagine don’t even have a bank account. These people rely on cash.

The homeless man you give a few pennies to, or the busker who plays so well you drop money into his hat, will become things of the past if cash is phased out, (not the homeless, but giving them money). Banks and bankers too would become dinosaurs, without a job and no hefty six figure bonus. We must assume they will fight for the survival of cash, as that is connected to their ‘extra pay-outs’.

A general survey about how people paid for things was done in 2012 and compared to the same research in 2015. This showed:

2012 Cash Usage 40%, down in 2015 to 32%.

Cheques and debit cards were roughly the same, while credit card usage had risen in 2015. Electronic payments went from 7% to 11%. So overall, a slow rise in electronic payments and subsequent drop in cash, statistics say.

Last year 42% of retail purchases in the U.K. were made in cash, showing cash is still popular in Britain and will probably stay with us for a long time to come. So it seems our bank notes are safe, as long as we keep using them.

Some experts, (UK Finance), predict a large drop in cash usage by 2026, but what this is based on remains to be seen, which means the validity of this, is not worth many pennies.

Whether or not cash remains with us into the future depends on too many variables to predict with certainty, but it looks like cash is here to stay, for now.

Have experts looked into what would happen if cash was made obsolete and the internet crashed? No money for anyone and back to living in caves and using clubs no doubt!

Words by George Carter

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BusinessTim Byrne