I have written 380 blogs in Finextra since I was invited to join in 2008. Mostly about themes like e-banking, e-invoicing, e-id, e-salary, payments, the Single Market and lately more about the data-driven economy and its drivers DLT, GDPR and MyData. I am
very grateful for having received some 1,6 million views and will try hard to get to the 2 million mark.
One thing that puzzles me is the number of views and sometimes feeling-driven comments I receive when I write about the case for minimising the use of cash - so much that this is the most viewed blog 14 597 times so far https://www.finextra.com/blogs/fullblog.aspx?blogid=15608.
It is, of course, interesting - picturing a very dramatically accelerating change in consumer behavior - ATM withdrawals have dropped some 40 million times over a couple of years from already low levels in a country with 5.5 million people. 2,3 billion€ less in
bills circulated back and forth in and out of the central bank in nightly armored car convoys.
Why is it important to speed up the process to a virtually cashless economy in Europe (Finland has set the target to 2029 - some countries earlier)?
1. Cash is costing merchants some 50bn€/year - certainly, all paid by unwitting consumers
2. Cash is the very essential tool for high and low crime - drug trading, arms trading, prostitution, illegal gaming, robbing, stealing, forging - you name it. How much does this cost society in police forces, prisons etc - not to mention the individuals.
Of course, all crime cannot be eliminated - but it would be made much worse to run if cash would stand out as a sign of it.
3. The grey economy. The global size of it is estimated to 9,7 trillion$. Still some 15% of GDP on average in Europe. Cash is the oil for it.
4. Sustainability. CO2 caused by printing, transporting, protecting, policing, jailing etc -perhaps not that huge (compared to Bitcoin..) - but add to it the unnecessary work it causes - time that could be spent on something useful, sustainable and productive.
5. Cash management. When normal interest rates return citizens can earn also on this part - not big but still. More important is the time saved from not having to go to an ATM - there will be fewer of them in the future.
We now also see a quite rapid move away from card to mobile payments. Eventually, we can eliminate some 10 billion of PVC-plastic pieces issued every year. Expensive as such - and adding the mailing and huge fraud costs they cause this is something all responsible
consumer and environmentalist organizations should drive.