The big idea: should we embrace a cashless society?

Natasha Leibbrandt in The Guardian:

How do you like to pay? Do you prefer to tap, wave, insert, single-click or double-click – or are you a hold out for hard cash? If it’s the latter, you’re fast becoming the exception. Between our growing enthusiasm for online shopping, the ease and speed with which we can now make electronic bank transfers, and the inexorable rise of cards and the advent of digital wallets, more and more of us are shunning physical money. This is still a relatively recent trend. Cards only overtook cash as the consumers’ preferred mode of payment in the UK in 2017 – with contactless accounting for 40% of transactions. The shift has been dizzyingly rapid.

The big advantages of non-cash payments are that they are seamless, efficient, convenient. This clearly matters a lot to us. But has it been our decision to adopt these new habits, or have we sleepwalked into them, with a little help from those who stand to profit? The truth is, it’s a bit of both. Merchants are keen to reduce cost and increase spend: the less friction we experience at the till, the less chance there is for second thoughts. Payment providers sell their equipment and services to merchants, so the merchants’ appetites are their primary consideration. On the other hand, we are the ones who have chosen to use cards and engage in e-commerce.

More here.