Backlash Against “War on Cash” Reaches Washington & China
Backlash Against “War on Cash” Reaches Washington & China from Wolf Street
The electronic-payments industry, which gets a cut from every electronic transaction, wants to kill cash. But wait…
Not so long ago, it seemed that the death of cash was both inevitable and imminent. The war against physical money was advancing on all fronts. Cash, already with technological and generational trends stacked against it, faced an imposing array of enemies, including private banks, fintech firms, telecom behemoths, credit card giants, assorted NGOs, tech magnates like Bill Gates and Tim Cook, a bewildering alphabet soup of UN agencies and many national governments. All wanted (and to a great extent still want) to accelerate the demise of physical money, for their own disparate motives.
But a study released in June by UK-based online payments company Paysafe confirmed that consumers on both sides of the Atlantic continue to cling to physical lucre: 87% of consumers surveyed in the UK, Canada, the US, Germany, and Austria said they had used cash to make purchases in the last month, 83% visited ATMs, and 41% said they are not interested in even hearing about cash alternatives.
Now, even certain branches of government are pushing back against the cashless trend. In Washington D.C., city councilors have introduced a new bill that would make it illegal for restaurants and retailers not to accept cash or charge a different price to customers depending on the type of payment they use. The bill is in response to efforts by retailers in the city and around the country – like the salad chain Sweetgreen – to go 100% cashless.
Such moves have been decried as discriminatory against the roughly one-quarter of people in the U.S. who would have trouble using a card or some other electronic means of payment, not to mention those who would just prefer to use cash. “Certain underbanked customers have to use cash; they don’t have other alternatives. Other customers feel more financially responsible if they use cash as opposed to digital payments,” said Wei Ke, a partner at Simon-Kucher & Partners, a management consulting firm.