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What would happen in a cashless society?

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

With contactless cards becoming the payment of choice, a cashless way of life looks like more of a reality, especially since the pandemic started.

A cashless society means all payments are made electronically, rather than with notes and coins. The move towards cashless has ramped up since 2020, since the start of the pandemic. Some establishments have stopped taking cash payments altogether since physical cash carries germs and bacteria. 

The advantages of going cashless

Hygiene

Since cash often goes through so many different hands, it's more than likely to be covered in germs and bacteria. Cutting down on its use will reduce the potential of spreading germs - which has never been more essential.

Security

Carrying cash can make you more vulnerable to theft. If your cash gets stolen, it's unlikely to be recovered. While your cards can also fall victim to theft, your PIN makes it harder for the thief to spend large amounts without being caught. You can also easily cancel any stolen cards with a quick phone call to the bank.

Convenience

It’s quicker to make payments with a card as you don't have to count out money or wait around for a change. Paying with a card enables you to check and keep track of your payment history easily.  You also don't need to worry about having enough cash in your purse or wallet before you go shopping.

Building your credit score

While cash payments don't impact your credit file, using credit cards responsibly can help to build up a good credit history and improve your credit score. By doing this, it could help you to take out credit in the future.

The disadvantages of going cashless

Acceptance

Not all types of cards are accepted everywhere, whereas cash is. Small businesses will often only accept cash as well. Unless you have more than one type of card, you could find yourself unable to pay for your goods.

Risk of fraud

Cards can be vulnerable to fraud so make sure you guard your cards and their details carefully.

Debt-management

It can be harder to keep track of your spending when you're paying quickly and easily with a card. If you pay with hard cash, it's a lot easier to see exactly how much you’re spending and can make you think twice before making purchases, especially when it comes to impulse buys.

Availability

Not everyone has a bank account, and some rural areas may not have the technology yet to take electronic payments. Small businesses may only accept cash because of the extra fees for processing card payments.

Alternatives to using cash

If you do decide to stop using cash, then what are the alternatives?

Debit cards let you pay with the money available in your bank account.

Credit cards work in the same way as debit cards, but you're borrowing the money from the lender and will have to pay it back, or you might have to pay interest. When using a credit card, you should only spend what you can afford to pay back as well.

When prepaid cards have cash loaded on to them, they can be used the same way as a debit or credit card. Once the balance has gone, you’ll need to top it up again. The Revolut card is an example of a prepaid card - and you can use it internationally.

You can use mobile apps to make payments if you connect them to your bank card. Services like Paypal allow you to make online payments for a wide range of goods and services.

Check out these five electronic ways you can pay people.

Will we ever be a cashless society?

The UK is seeing an increase in the use of electronic payments as people ditch cash in favour of debit and credit cards. Whether this means that we'll become a cashless society remains to be seen. Watching how Sweden handles becoming a cashless society could be a good indicator of how soon the UK follows suit, if at all.

Read about some retailers that have been refusing to accept cash payments.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Beresford

By Sarah Beresford

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