Turning cashless comes with a huge cost

Canada is one of the world’s most cashless societies, with 62 percent of surveyed Canadians saying they are using less cash now compared to their spending before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reasons for going cashless are easy to understand: it is quick, you never have to rummage around for exact change and digitized spending leaves a much smaller environmental footprint. Also, particularly in a pandemic, it reduces the touch points we all share.

But the move into cashless business has a big cost. A 2019 study showed that 17 percent of the UK’s population would “struggle to cope in a cashless society.” The Bank of Canada has been urging retailers to continue accepting cash as legal tender since May. And countries, like Sweden, are taking a serious look at how they can digitize the economy, without leaving many people behind in the process.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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