What kind of reality will a cashless society be?

Let’s imagine what would happen if millions of online and mobile banking users would suddenly become unable to access their accounts. The situation seems to be close to complete chaos.

Just recently there was a Europe-wide Visa outage, which deprived a large number of customers of the ability to make card payments or even withdraw cash in some cases. The problem made people realize that the tech can fail and at the moment it fails there will be no plan b or alternative around, as there are not that many bank branches around, as well as not that many people who carry cash around. At the moment tech fails, people become stuck; high reliance on technological advancements leads to tough struggle when they fail to meet expectations.

Cash is a great solution to make basic transactions in cases of emergency, yet people are caring around much less these days. Think about this, 62% of UK consumers carry less cash than they used to (£33 in 2017 vs £21 in 2018). At the same time, more and more industry experts suggest that relying only on modern technologies can be quite risky.

Does this signify a reconsideration of the blind trust in digital? According to a recent survey from international law firm Osborne Clarke, 79% of the 2,000 people surveyed said they are preoccupied with the amount of personal data they would have to share if cash became entirely replaced by mobile payments.

Yet, the consumer demand for higher convenience and ease of various digital instruments such as contactless options, doesn’t seem to be decreasing as it brings so much ease into so many aspects of our financial lives.

As Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group, said, clients expect the same seamless, efficient and digital experience they get from online retailers like Amazon from their banking providers. This said, cases of failure like the one that Visa customers experienced might simply cause them to change provider as opposed to running away from tech solutions. As a consequence, banks that fail to develop or incorporate innovative solutions and choose to remain skeptical about the power of digitalization, will simply loose customers and fall behind. Refusing to serve the needs of digital customers in the era of new innovative banks, financial products and platforms that are extremely advanced is a suicide. At the same time, privacy, security and transparency are becoming the aspects that must be given proper attention and put in the list of priorities in order to maintain customers satisfied with the experience they get.

As correctly noted by Marc-Alexander Christ, co-founder of mobile payments company SumUp: “As always with technological advancement, convenience and practicality will win out”.

Our society is growing increasingly accustomed and dependent on the convenience and speed of banking services delivered by the providers. Cashless payment methods are surely empowering for both, businesses and customers, yet everything must be taken with a grain of salt.