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Only five more years?

By Dave Birch posted Feb 9 2010 at 8:52 PM

[Dave Birch] As far as I can make out (via Babelfish), the Dutch Consumers' Association are predicting cashless retailing within five years. That may seem an aggressive forecast, but some parts of the Dutch retail environment have already gone in that direction.

When I entered what I saw was perhaps the nicest selection and quality of food I had ever seen in the city of Amsterdam, excepting one organic open market (only open Saturdays.) I proceeded to do my shopping with great joy, looking forward to sampling the beautiful organic products on sale. Awaiting me at the counter however was a shock, cash is not accepted at this store.

[From OpEdNews - Article: Cashless Society, Coming Soon to a Store Near You!]

If this is a rare sight in the Netherlands now, it's going to become considerably more common over the next five years.

Dutch supermarkets are hoping to phase out the use of cash by 2014, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Thursday, quoting the retail board CBL.

[From DutchNews.nl - 'Supermarkets set to refuse cash']

France is taking its first steps in the same direction with the successful NFC pilots about to move into national roll-out.

Reactions among 1,000 technophile consumers who signed up for the Payez Mobile trial were encouraging. Contactless mobile payments proved popular with both sexes, and all ages... Nine out of 10 users said they would recommend mobile payments, and 70 per cent of retailers said they would want a terminal if they were commercially available.

[From FT.com / Technology / Digital Business - French take a lead in mobile payments]

To the Brits, NFC may be French letters and it is the Dutch who are planning to cap the use of cash, but one day we will surely follow in their footsteps.

Will supermarkets in the UK and elsewhere follow suit? I don't see why not. They don't take cheques any more and they do waste a lot of prime retail space on tills, safes and ATMs. And the UK, in fact, already uses cards more than the Netherlands does:

Italians however remain the most reticent of all European nations (apart from the Greeks) to embrace these systems. Every Italian indeed makes 21.6 transactions on average using payment cards per year – less than half the European average of 50.5. The biggest users are the Finns (153.9), the British (111.4), the Dutch (103.2), the French (89.5), the Belgians (85) and the Portuguese (74.9). Of lower propensity, but nevertheless greater than the Italians, are the Irish (48.6), Spanish (38.5), Austrians (37.9) and Germans (30.1). Only the Greeks make fewer transactions with “plastic money” (6.5).

[From Visa Europe]

But one barrier that has been mentioned again and again is the fall back. What happens when the "system" goes down (as, apparently, doesn't happen in the Netherlands)? Without cash, we would be denied this...

Safeway employees had closed and locked both stores but customers at two locations pushed on the front doors hard enough to open them, assuming the store was open... Roseville Police Department spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said the department received a call Thursday from a customer at the store on Pleasant Grove Boulevard and Roseville Parkway sometime in the afternoon. The customer said the Safeway doors were open but there were no signs of any staff inside. Gunther said another customer called police Friday from the store on Sunrise Avenue and Cirby Way, saying people were taking items from shelves and leaving money at the unmanned cash registers.

[From Police: Customers Shopped, Left Money in Unsupervised Roseville Safeway Stores | News10.net | Sacramento, California | Local News ]

I can tell you that my experience of living in America was that it was a very law-abiding place: I wonder if customers at our nearby Morrisons would exhibit the same "fall back" honesty!

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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very interesting post, this certainly seems to be the trend with more and more people using debit cards to make purchases that were typically done with cash. another reason we are seeing this shift is that the cost to produce money (particularly coins) continues to rise. also, governments/employers of course love digital money, easier to track. and at the end of the day, it is simply an easier and more efficient consumer experience. david waxman, www.vitaband.net

The Consumer association was misquoted, they are actually very worried about consumers not being able to use a legal means of payments (cash)to pay for goods. Prior attempts to go cashless with parking meters and at supermarket Marqt were met with resistance (although it was possible in the end).

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