Would A Cashless Society Be A Better Society?

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Could the UK become totally cashless in 10 years time? And if so, what does this mean for our future society?

The mobility of digital devices and the convenience of contactless means that today paying for goods and services has never been so simple. From smart watches that link to your bank account to tapping at EPOS screens without a minimum or maximum spend limit, consumers have never been so empowered by the diversity of options to pay – all of them simple and immediate. However, would an exclusively cashless society mean that all consumer benefit equally? A new study has warned banks that they must adapt their offerings to help consumers to use mobile or online banking so the distribution of convenience and other advantages can trickle down through to everyone in soon-to-be cashless economies. The UK law firm, Osborne Clarke, conducted a survey in 2018 which found that over three-quarters of UK consumers – 79% – are concerned about sharing too much personal data should cashless payments become the only method of payment in the future (check out their excellent state of the industry report here).

The Fear Of Change

However, as the big banks struggle with cumbersome digital transformation projects and are run by old management teams that fear change, tech startups that specialize exclusively in mobile payment platforms and digital wallets are already dominating this nascent market demand. Along with this growth in technology adoption by consumers, there is an emerging FinTech industry purpose-built to satisfy this demand for convenience that banks are failing to supply. One example of this compares the market comparison sites which offer businesses a range of choices in merchant service vendors. These websites can significantly reduce operating costs for EPOS and the behind-the-scenes technology that provides the infrastructure for cashless transactions.

One major player in the FinTech industry, Revolut, wants to help kick start this cashless revolution – announcing that the UK could be fully cashless in 10 years time. Vlad Yatsenko, the CTO and co-founder at this online-only challenger bank predicated that with the simultaneous rise of blockchain technology, mobile payments and contactless, the United Kingdom could be one of the first countries in the world to go totally cashless. Yatsenko, expressed the opinion that financial institutions must adapt to this rapidly changing landscape of technology and consumer expectations about convenience. With highstreet banking outlets closing down at an alarming rate, perhaps his prophecy will come true before the end of the decade. With 13 million people having lost half of their local branches, the banking giants – HSBC, Natwest, Lloyds, Metro – will have to learn to integrate these FinTechs or directly compete with them in order to satisfy their customers’ expectations around convenience, if they wish to maintain their loyalty during these revolutionary times.



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