Why a cashless society is the way forward

cashless, payment
Hands with transport card, smartphone, smartwatch and bank card near POS terminal. Wireless, contactless or cashless payments, rfid nfc. Vector illustration in flat style

It’s becoming ever more apparent that as a society, we’re veering more towards being completely cashless, with solutions for giving and receiving money continually popping up and challenging everything we thought we knew about transacting.

Not only is new technology and state-of-the-art security helping to boost consumer confidence when it comes to transacting electronically, but Financial Technology (FinTech) is streamlining our financial interactions – making it easier and more reliable than ever before.

According to the RBA, in the early 2000’s, Australians went to an ATM an average of 40 times per year but today, we go to an ATM around 25 times a year, a downward trend that is likely to continue. Further to this, Australians make an average of nearly 500 electronic payments a year, whereas almost two decades ago, we were only making around 100 per year.

We rarely carry cash with us and for those who do, it’s almost seen as a rarity; a strong reflection that we’re teetering on the edge of a cashless society.

The rise of FinTech

FinTech is the emerging industry focused on using the latest technological innovations to provide digitised financial solutions. Nowadays, apps are used to book and pay for just about anything – from parking, food delivery, online shopping and even just to bank – making cash transactions virtually obsolete.

With transport apps like Uber completely changing the way we get around – that is, no visible transaction – taxis are often left with individuals climbing out at the end of the ride, forgetting they haven’t yet paid their fare.

Victoria’s public transport system has now launched the digital Myki card, allowing commuters to pay for public transport using their smartphones.

Although Australia doesn’t have any immediate plans of going completely cashless, there’s no denying it could be a possibility – just look at Sweden, set to become the world’s first cashless country by 2023.

Sweden was the first European country to introduce banknotes and ironically, intends to be the first country in the world to eradicate them entirely. This process will see its own digital currency introduced in 2021 and in less than four years, cash will no longer be accepted as a means of payment.

The Nordic country is said to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, with major Scandinavian banks creating a mobile payment system known as ‘Swish’, allowing individuals to authorise safe and instantaneous transactions to friends, companies and organisations.

Almost all 18 to 24-year-olds no longer use cash as research reveals up to 95 per cent of their purchases are made electronically, by card or via Swish. Widely accustomed to using the app, the term “Swish“ has now been integrated as a commonly used verb in Swedish vernacular; “just swish it to me.”

Where to from here?

Although cold hard cash is tangible, it’s no longer practical. We “tap to pay” for just about anything using contactless payment systems and our daily engagement with FinTech is skyrocketing.

Ultimately, a future without any need to transact with cash may be closer than you think – even the tradition of gifting cash is turning digital. Gone are the days of stuffing money in an envelope, with many instead requesting a digital wishing well be used for their special day. Cashless is not only a more secure option; it’s a more reliable and convenient option.

Arguably, a cashless society is the way forward but only time will tell as to how an entire society adapts to such a concept.

Marta Barbayannis, Founder, GiftWell