In a growing number of countries around the world, carrying actual cash – bills and coins in wallets, pockets, and purses – is becoming a behavior destined for museums and antique stores as the globe continues its slow but steady march toward a cashless economy.
The “cashless” move is being supported by governments, financial service companies, device markers, technology experts and fintech innovators, among others.
They are adopting policies, offering incentives and inventing new technologies to convince citizens, employers and businesses to reduce their acceptance of hard cash for payments and to shift instead to electronic, digital and mobile transactions for everything from paycheck deposits and coffee purchases to airline and train tickets, tax payments, and groceries. Among recent developments:
- NPR recently documented the near dominance of cashless transactions in Sweden, where more than 95% of payments are digital or mobile.
- A recent Visa survey found that 74% of Malaysians prefer to use electronic payments for transactions, some because they do not feel safe carrying cash; government officials feel the country is on pace to become primarily cashless by 2020.
- Visa is expanding to the UK a U.S. initiative that offers merchants $10,000 if they switch to digital-only payments, according to CNBC, which calls the global credit card company’s “cashless challenge” an “all-out war on cash.”
- Vietnam, where 60% of transactions today involve cash and 30% of citizens do not have a bank account, has set an ambitious goal of being cashless by 2020, notes the Vietnam Briefing.
- In the UK, a recent government report endorsed cashless transactions as a way to ensure payment of taxes by self-insured citizens.
Cashless economy = mobile commerce imperative
Even major accounting firms are embracing alternative payments, electronic payments, and Bitcoin, according to Accounting Today, which describes a survey that shows increased support for electronic and digital payments over cash. Max Eiscu, CEO of the company that conducted the survey, describes the cashless moment quite succinctly:
“Electronic invoicing and payments are just the beginning — the future of the payments industry is highly dependent on leveraging innovation like biometrics, data integration, and a growing variety of payment methods to securely drive more volume with visibility, speed, and simplicity.”
This move toward cashless economies is occurring at the same time that transactions, interactions, and communications are shifting from the desktop to the mobile environment – a global cultural trend that puts all companies on notice of the need to support business operations from smartphones, digital devices, apps and other new technologies as they emerge.
Within the last 10 months, in fact, mobile access to the Internet surpassed desktop access to the Internet – 51.3% mobile vs. 48.7% desktop, according to StatCounter.
The Mobile Journey has begun
That profound techno-milestone deepens the imperative for all companies, including airlines, travel firms, and transportation companies, to embrace mobile commerce capabilities from their websites and apps before they lose the flexibility and time window needed to make the necessary changes.
As travelers navigate the world, they increasingly will need to be able to search, buy, book and pay from their smartphones, watches and other digital devices, especially as they cross global borders and experience various levels of digital payment acceptance from country to country. Our recent reports on “The Mobile Journey (Re-Imagined)” and “The Mobile Booking Engine” provide insights and information to help airlines and travel companies begin to make the move now toward an ever-imminent cashless economy and the mobile commerce capabilities that support it.
Let us know if we can help your company, airline or travel firm begin the journey toward mobile commerce and cashless transactions with your customers and passengers.