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Ever since I wrote
The Death Of Cash Is At Least 190 Years Away, I've seen the "Zero Cash Day" getting pushed out farther and farther. Although I kicked off a lively debate with this post, I got a bit bored with this subject myself and have stopped writing / commenting about
it of late. However, I must acknowledge that your article makes a fundamental and valid point about cash and civil liberty that is completely ignored by the digerati that's pushing for a cashless society. I remember myself mentioning somewhere during this
debate that, of all the payment methods in the world today, cash is the only truly legal tender. With every other MOP, each party involved in the transaction flow can shift the blame to someone else when something goes wrong, leaving the consumer / payer in
I am a strong believer in going cashless, personally and because I am one of those stakeholders who wants to move people to a cashless environment. That being said, cash is here to stay for a very long time, and thats for a various number of reasons. After
all, right or wrong, we all know of busiensses that do a "cash" deal ;)
Going cashless though using card schemes is not what I advocate. Card schemes are based on an old technology and an older way of looking at cashless. Its also older technologies that are used by the banks to complete transactions (and its not just the issueing
bank thats involved in a card transaction, there are at least 2 other steps all using that same old techn).
For me, the move to cashless is less about actual tender and the payment and more about the added value I can bring to a transaction. Added value can come in many forms, services, data, rewards, experience etc. But to move to a cashless environment we need
to have solutions that reduce the number of moving parts in the process and build their solution in an environment that has in excess of 99% uptime. This is what I'm working on and delivering...(but cash is here to stay)
I’m also a great believer in payments innovation but I maintain that there is a role for both cash and efficient, innovation-based value added solutions in the future payments system. This is because any new technology that can add value and enhance the
payment experience for merchants, customers and financial institutions alike, such as you have outlined, still does not truly have the invaluable property of anonymity, which only cash can provide.
Also, a cashless solution with uptime in excess of 99% isn’t good enough. If we are to eliminate cash, 99.9999% isn’t good enough. Cash has a 100% uptime and any replacement for it needs to be at 100% too or else, as we have seen with the NatWest debacles,
consumers can be left without any means of payment.
For these reasons, I believe a cashless society is a very dangerous concept.
I think there is a consensus evolving in the debate that the point is not about the absolute termination of cash from existence but increasing and evident trend of substitution of it. To my mind, it is matter of time that we have an innovative payment method
in place, which could take care of the short coming of any technical glitch associated with a cashless mode of payment. Even though we are witnessing RBS like incidents (02nd Dec, 2013) once in a while, that should not deter from the journey towards an "increasingly"