Through interviews with a financially excluded Swedish pensioner Maijlis Jonsson, payment systems expert Professor Niklas Arvidsson and Mint editor Monika Halan, reporter Rob Young asks 'Who Needs Cash? in an radio episode for BBC Business Daily.
The cashless economy: Who are the winners and losers in the worldwide shift to digital payments? Does a Cashless Society Benefit Everyone?
The episode begins with an interview with Maijlis Jonsson, a 73-year-old woman living in Stockholm. While she visits a bank and a coffee shop, she explains how the Swedish government plans for going cashless excludes her needs.
The fee for withdrawing cash is "an awful lot of money", she says. Even though it's free for her to conduct an online transfer, "it it’s a problem… some [of us] don’t know how to do it.”
Sweden’s past moves towards going cashless
Cash is now used in less than one in five of all cash transactions in stores – half the number as five years ago. The country has banned notes and coins on buses, many tourist attractions take plastic-only transactions.
The law says shops can refuse to accept cash. So many stores now have signs reading, “no cash, please.” Life can be hard for those unwilling or unable to embrace the changes...
“I think if cash disappears all over, it will be a very big problem… I’m afraid it is going too fast… so it’s a big concern if you have that feeling that society is not for you.”
...as with all moves towards uncharted territory, who holds the power? Will we be handing it over to a small number of private companies who hold the keys to how these payment systems work?
India’s controversial demonetisation strategy
India is looking to step away from traditional cash transactions. But some say it took an extreme, perhaps brutal step at forcing people to embrace digital transactions.
The government withdrew some high denomination bank notes from circulation over a year ago. The move hit the economy and many poor people...
"You need to get banking to the poor people, in the manner that they want it – not in the manner that is supplied."
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi created dozens of cashless townships where notes and coins are discouraged. There is even a government ministry dedicated to driving the change.
Rob Young. Who Needs Cash?. BBC Radio. Released 12 April 2018.