Blog article
See all stories »

Crusade against cash

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 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.


Comments: (0)

Bo Harald

Bo Harald

Chairman/Founding member, board member

Transmeri, Demos, Real Time Economy Program,MyData

Member since

04 Nov 2008


Helsinki Region

Blog posts




This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Payments strategies 2015-2020-2030

Payments systems visions, strategies, trends, pilots, forecasting, and planning for the short-, medium-, and far-term.

See all

Now hiring