[Dave Birch] People do talk about having a "war on cash" from time and, believe me, I'm very much in favour of this. But it doesn't necessarily mean a future of continuous skirmishes between cards and cash, battles over "territory". Another future for notes and coins might see them becoming unfashionable or socially-unacceptable, sort of the way that drunk driving did. Maybe it would be OK to pay with cash, but when you produced a crumpled tenner in Waitrose you'd have to endure the suspicious stares of the staff and customers behind you in the checkout queue. They'd naturally assume that you are a tax evader or drug dealer, perhaps a pimp or a corrupt local government official.
At a time when governments desperately need tax revenues, a shift in public attitudes away from suspicious cash towards law-abiding cards could be a more effective driver for growth in the electronic payments marketplace than issuer incentives or more pervasive acquiring networks.
Bizarre as it seems, my fanatic ranting about cash represents a spreading meme. Even the staid and conservative Swedes are beginning to the think the unthinkable.
Computer Sweden writes that cash is an invitation to crime. Legislators, banks and retailers are to blame for having failed to eliminate cash usage - despite cards having been around for 30 years on a large scale. Not only are piles of cash inviting robbers - it is also the enabler of drug trade, prostitution, illegal gaming, etc. Without cash these activities would have a hard time... The story concludes by encouraging new signs: "We do not accept cash." The technology is certainly ready for it.[From Cash for crime]
It is indeed. As Visa Inc. are pointing out in their new US advertising campaign, targeted at Washington, there's no need for merchants to accept cash at all.
The campaign includes video interviews with merchants, such as taxi drivers and the owners of the New York restaurant Commerce, who told American Banker in August that they had decided to stop accepting cash because "it seems a burden on us to have two systems. It's the age of electronic transfers."[From Visa Plasters D.C. with Ads as Debate Heats Up - American Banker Article]
I'm all in favour of this more aggressive approach to the war on cash. We have to show businesses that making use of e-payments, which are a good thing for society, is good thing for them too.
In June, American became the latest domestic carrier to stop taking cash on its flights. Representatives for it and other airlines with similar policies, including United, Southwest and JetBlue, said this week that in-flight sales had grown since they stopped accepting cash.[From 'Cards Only' Merchants Break From Anti-Interchange Pack - American Banker Article]
I think that last point is rather telling: if merchants can actually not only save costs but also grow sales by getting rid of cash, what's not to like?
Perhaps the most important use of money - It saves time.
Author W. Somerset Maugham (1943).