Cash has been the world’s foundation for centuries but with the increase in innovation, we must ask the question: is cash becoming redundant? Are we really seeing the end of cash in today’s society or is it being exaggerated? According to emarketer.com, the pandemic not only changed how we shop but the method of payment used when we shop. Contactless payment has grown so much over the pandemic that over 82% of Americans are now using this method.
How has the payments landscape grown in the last 10 years?
In the past 10 years, payment has changed drastically. We saw Crypto grow from something nobody knew about or how it worked to something that is now being used as currency in some countries. We’ve seen things develop such as mobile wallets, NFC, mobile p2p transfer, etc. Personally, I remember a time when my mom was hesitant to buy things on the internet because it wasn’t the most popular thing to do. Now she shops more online than in-person without hesitation.
Pros & Cons with Cash
Whether you are pro-cash or pro-mobile payment there are pros and cons to both. Let’s start with Cash. Firstly, a benefit of cash is you don’t have to worry about the everyday risk like if you were to use your card. There are risks when it comes to using your card whether it’s credit or debit. Someone can install fake card readers and use that information. Another risk could be being double or even triple charged. I’ve seen this happen personally to both of my parents at random places. One was a restaurant; another was a gas station. Paying cash lessens your chances of dealing with these situations. Another pro of cash would be it helps you stay on a budget more. When you have cash, you are fully aware that you can only spend what you have compared to when you have your card. When you have your card, you are more likely to overspend even if it’s by $5.
Now to the cons. When it comes to cash, one of the reasons I don’t like to carry it is because I feel like I’m a target with it in my pocket. I know anyone can get robbed at any time for anything, but cash heightens that feeling for me. Lastly, we went through a coin shortage. During this coin shortage, businesses were encouraging consumers to use their credit/debit cards because there was a chance, they wouldn’t be able to give them their change back. If all you have is cash on you then that would be a problem.
Also as mentioned before, Covid changed how we dealt with cash. A great number of merchants stopped accepting cash altogether. I remember rumours going around that Covid was spreading through paper money. Even though it sounds silly I believe it did impact some merchants’ decisions on accepting cash. According to the 2021 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice, cash payments represented 19% of all transactions in the U.S in 2020. There was a 7% decrease from 2019. So, with those statistics, I fully believe covid made an impact on payment.
Pros & Cons with mobile payment
Next, we have mobile payment. There are quite a few pros when it comes to using mobile payment. As stated previously, there are also risks. One of those risks is having your information stolen or having your card charged multiple times. Now there are some instances where mistakes can happen and of course, those can be corrected. But there are other instances that have been reported on how an employee will save the card number of a consumer and charge them more later. Another con would be the technological barrier. Some people aren’t that tech-savvy so using cash is just easier for them. But even with the risk, there are some good that come with using mobile payment.
Even though earlier I spoke about the risks/security of using a card according to NCR.com, there are actually some pros of security and safety. NCR.com gave an analogy regarding if your wallet was stolen. If you have cash in the wallet nine times out of 10 your cash will be gone if you found that wallet ever again. But if your wallet was stolen and you have cards in there such as debit and credit cards you can have more peace of mind because all you have to do is go to the app and lock your card or call and notify your bank that your card was stolen.
What have other industry experts said about it?
While researching I came upon a podcast episode between Capital One Vice President Donny Hoye and Payments Journal Editor-in-Chief Ryan McEndarfer. In this podcast episode, they were discussing the evolution of payments. McEndarfer admitted that in his everyday life he rarely carries cash on him. As the conversation continued Donny Hoye explained why cash probably won’t fully go away. He mentioned how if we were to suffer from a blackout or any type of storm that it will disrupt technology and cash would be a good/only way to barter for goods and services.
What’s your opinion on it?
After doing my research and reading both opinions on the topic I began thinking about my own habits. From personal experience, cash is my least favourite way to pay for something. I rarely carry cash for this very reason. It is much more convenient to just pull out my phone and pay versus having to pull money out of my wallet. Now I have had errors where the machine wouldn’t work or the merchant didn’t accept mobile pay but even in those situations, I would normally reach for my debit/credit card not cash. However, I have learnt the value of cash, especially during emergencies. I do plan to prioritize cash more than I was before.
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