2021 Cash Matters Retrospective Part 2
Today, we conclude our look back through major payment stories of 2021.
Malaysian consumer and business representatives came together to criticise the ‘undue haste’ with which their government was rolling out cashless policies, saying their members still prefer to operate using cash and many were not ready or willing to enable cashless options.
Also in July, India banned Mastercard from issuing new cards and the European Central Bank noted cash was helping Europeans to manage uncertain times.
A report examining financial attitudes, preferences and habits in 17 key global markets found the demise of cash had been overstated, concluding that—despite changes wrought by the pandemic—payment cultures around the world remain diverse, and cash coexists with contactless options.
Also in August, cash payments were climbing fast in France as the nation’s outlook brightened, and $600 million were stolen a historic cryptocurrency heist.
Italy’s government ended a much-maligned scheme aimed at encouraging cashless payments over concerns around its cost, fairness and abuses of the system. Among critics of the scheme was the European Central Bank, which expressed concerns over the negative effect it could have on cash use, its discrimination against those who depend on physical money, and how it undermined the obligation of EU countries to maintain a neutral stance on different payment methods.
The UK limit on spend per contactless card transaction more than doubled this month, from £45 to £100, and criminologists warned the steep rise would make card fraud more attractive to criminals. They noted debit and credit cards were already high-risk targets, and higher contactless limits would only increase their attractiveness.
Also in October, we explored why America’s service workers were missing cash tips, and a Nigerian policy of charging for cash deposits and withdrawals was ruled discriminatory.
Research showed cash remained strongly preferred for face-to-face payments across Latin America, accounting for 75 percent of in-person retail spending in 2020 even as new payment choices were becoming available.
Also in November, we explored the enduring popularity of cash in Switzerland, and the U.S. announced new coin designs celebrating trailblazing women.
December: WeChat Woes for Expats in China
We looked back at a year of problems for both Chinese and expat users of the WeChat mobile payment app related to glitches in its identity verification that froze accounts and stopped people from accessing their money or making payments. We also examine the longstanding issue of privacy, given all activity on the platform is tracked and analysed, with data passed on to the Chinese authorities, risking users having their accounts deleted for affiliation with LGBTQ+ rights groups, or even being arrested, as in the case of one man who joked in a WeChat group about a senior Chinese government official.
Also in December, cash was going strong in Africa, with examples being its leading position in Nigerian payments, and Kenya supporting small businesses by raising the reporting threshold for cash transactions.