Is the UK Going to Become a Cashless Society?

Credit Cards, Paypal, online banks, and contactless cards. Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more rare to use cash. There seems to be no incentive to use it when the alternatives are so good. Card payments are instant and prevent you having to walk around with a pocket full of coins. Use certain cards or apps, and you’ll even receive rewards. Credit and Debit cards from some stores even reward you with vouchers. The more you spend, the more you receive. It’s hard to resist. But does this signify a move towards a cashless society?

cashless society 2017

Privacy Concerns

One of the main problems with moving towards a cashless society is privacy. When you purchase with cash, that payment is untraceable. Purchasing using cards or apps mean every payment you make is traceable and leaves a paper trail. Having the bank know what you spend your money on isn’t the biggest issue though. Banks may know where your money goes, but they cannot tell you where to spend it. The issue with moving towards a cashless society is the effect it will have on advertising. Advertisers can and will tell you exactly where to spend your money. Especially if they know what you’re already buying. They can lead you away from competitors or encourage you to make purchases with a series of refined ads.

If all purchases are traceable, an odd situation occurs. Advertisers and brands may get to a point where they can buy your entire purchase history. If no purchases are made by cash, they will be able to see everything you buy and where you buy it from. By gaining access to your spending history and analysing your purchase habits, advertisers have all the information they need about you. Targeted ads would be pinpointed and specific to get you to spend more money. This poses a threat to consumer privacy. But, banks selling your information isn’t new. It’s a lucrative way for them to make more money from advertisers.

Contactless payment card machine

So will it happen?

More than a third of Europeans and Americans would be happy to go without cash and rely on electronic forms of payment if they could, and at least 20 percent already pretty much do. Trends suggest more and more people will begin to phase out cash. Contactless payments are the newest feature to make card payments easier. With the pin now being null for payments under £30, you can literally wave your card over the chip and pin and go. As opposed to the public disliking physical tender, the appeal of the alternatives is just simply that they are easier and quicker. Speed and ease will always be two things that people want.

Alongside contactless cards, the introduction of mobile wallets now mean you don’t even need a credit or debit card to make purchases. Individuals lives are becoming condensed into each of their palm sized smartphones. There’s an indication this how it will continue. More and more people are going longer without using cash at all. However, some say digital banking will never rid the need of physical touch points across the country. As bank branches across the country close, demand for access to self-service options is still increasing. It seems as though this will be the case for a little while, specifically with the older generation. Cashless and contactless aren’t quite cutting it just yet.