Is Cash on its way Out?

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Author: Adanys Wynterwulf, August 2018

2018-08 Cash On Its Way Out.png

It started out so simply. I was 19, had had my own credit cards for just over a year, and my friend’s warnings about watching the balance were still ringing in my ears. After a few online purchases coupled with other small local purchases, I was momentarily fed up with having a balance on my cards. I decided that I’d pay for my new jeans the old fashioned way: cash money.

Now these jeans were from Buckle, and those things can get pricey. I think I bought a pair, maybe two. But I did pay for them with cash because that’s what I’d been saving up for. I didn’t think much of having $200 or so in my wallet. Well, not until the cashier decided to quip “That’s a lot of cash you’re carrying,” or something to that effect. I felt she was being a bit nosy, but didn’t reply and just went on my way. Today, it has me wondering. Is cash on its way out the door?

We all now know that credit cards, PayPal, e-currency, and whatever else is out there is becoming more and more mainstream. But just how mainstream? Is the end in sight for cash? Or can we expect it to stick around a while longer?

Sweden is currently one of the most cashless economies in the world, with cash being used for less than 20% of transactions in stores. Many or most coffee shops, banks, public transportation, and other businesses in the cities no longer accept or handle cash. It's now only cards or mobile payments. While the country is on a fast track to becoming completely cashless, there are still people who don’t want this to happen. This article highlights some of the concerns people have voiced, but at the same time heavily suggests it's basically an inevitable future, and all we can really do is delay it.

A study shows the 10 most cashless countries in the world, the top 5 being Canada, Sweden, UK, France, and the USA.

As with anything, there are two sides to this. Some argue going cashless is more efficient, could eliminate cash register robberies (though this doesn't protect your merchandise), and is just altogether easier. Some also argue that sex traffickers and money launderers rely on cash, and cutting it out of the economy could discourage these acts.

Others argue that going cashless leaves them more susceptible to hacking, or people stealing your card information. Cards can readily be cancelled these days, and false transactions are easily disputed most times, but it just isn't worth the hassle to some. Some don't feel safe using their cards in some places for this very reason, while others don't have the option of credit cards due to bad credit scores. Still others don't want to get familiar with online banking and transactions and are left behind because of it.

In spite of all the arguments against it, it's impossible to deny that cash is no longer the only or even most common way of paying for things in most places. What do you think? Do you prefer cash or card?