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A Cashless Society

Today we have seen two very interesting stories about the declining use of cash in the UK and the measures being taken by the Irish Government to reduce cash in its economy, which could save the country €1bn a year.

The continuing decline in cash in the UK demonstrates real progress. I think it is very positive news for the industry – especially the significant reduction in the number of cheques being written as we gradually get closer to the 2018 deadline.

Clearly customers are embracing debit cards for the control and convenience that they offer, and they are even continuing to use credit cards in growing numbers. The take-up of Faster Payments must also be classed as a massive success.

It will be interesting to see how these payment trends continue to evolve, especially with more innovative payment methods such as contactless payments for low-value transactions, prepaid cards, or even linked family cards, where different family members, including children and teens, have got cards linked to a single family account.

Meanwhile, the news from Ireland that cash costs the country €1bn a year highlights the sheer waste of paper and coins while also flagging the limitations in trying to accurately measure it. Back in February RBR stated that cash costs €130 per person in Europe. If this number is accurate, and we have no reason to believe it any less accurate than any other estimate, then it just shows the extent of the problem in Ireland if cash and cheques cost €680 per person there.

To date, the industry has struggled to really make the case for the consumer to move. It sounds like the Irish National Payments Implementation Plan (NPIP) is committed to the end of paper-based payments, but it would be good to see a juicy ‘carrot’ rather than a lot of ‘sticks’.

Paul Love

Solutions Consultant

ACI Worldwide