Do you often use cash or checks? Do you avoid merchants who don’t accept card payments or mobile payments?

It is thought that the United States first began “writing checks” in 1681, and later officially printing checks in 1762.*

sample Rhinebeck Bank check

An earlier Rhinebeck Bank Blog titled “The Downfall of the Check,” pointed out that checks used to be the only alternative to cash and discussed how check usage has been declining in recent years.

Advances in technology, however, over the last few decades have led to a rapid rise in alternatives to cash, as well as checks. Both were initially replaced by debit and credit cards, but there are now new digital alternatives such as making a payment via a smart phone or smart watch.

Does this mean we are on the way to becoming a cashless society?

A recent ING survey found that 68% of respondents “would rather visit a shop that only accepted cashless payments instead of just cash.” ** This survey, which was administered across Europe, the United States and Australia, found the following:
78% of those who used cash less often in the past 12 months expect to continue to reduce their cash use
34% of Europeans would go completely cashless if they could
21% of Europeans rarely use cash at all
1% of Europeans have not needed to use cash for at least a year.**

Another statistic from the survey found that when asked “Do you generally carry cash?” 21% of Europeans and 34% in the USA responded either “no-not often” or “no-almost never”. I found it interesting that the USA had more respondents who do not carry cash than Europe. This would seem to be the opposite of the trend in acceptance of the EMV “chip card” technology where it was widely accepted and implemented in Europe some time before being accepted in the US.

However the survey also noted that 76% of Europeans and 75% of people in the United States say they will never go completely cashless.

There are many pros and cons to the cashless society debate, including privacy issues, safety and security issues, and economic issues. And it seems the debate will go on for some time. Just as the demise of the check has not come as swiftly as some predicted, the decline in the use of cash does not mean it will go the way of the dinosaur either. It is likely to stick around for a quite a while.

We at Rhinebeck Bank are happy to accommodate your cash needs at any of our local branches and at thousands of ATMs throughout the world.

*The Brief History of Checking

**ING Survey; a cashless society is coming, 26 April 2017

Robert Foster