Calls to Defend Cash Growing Worldwide

calendar iconFeb 7, 2024

Among the most significant cash trends in 2023 was a marked increase in calls to defend physical money as nations worldwide become more aware of the dangers posed by ‘cashless economies’.

In the US, demands to legally require businesses to accept cash have met with some success. Washington D.C. joined the many cities and states to introduce cash-friendly laws as of 1 October, Atlanta City Councilmember Antonio Lewis announced his intention to work with state lawmakers to ban cashless businesses across Georgia, and a bipartisan bill that would prohibit businesses nationwide from refusing cash payments, or charging a higher price to use cash, was reintroduced to the Senate.

Brits were less successful, with two popular online petitions calling for a strengthening of UK laws to support cash receiving the response that the Government ‘does not intend to mandate cash acceptance.’ Despite this refusal, concerns over the fairness and resilience of a cashless economy persist, with culture and politics magazine Spiked saying ‘killing cash will make us all poorer’ and ‘a true cashless society would be a dystopian nightmare.’

The European mainland saw more positive moves, with Austria’s leader advancing plans to recognise the right to use cash in law, the Swiss National Bank reiterating its commitment to cash, the Norwegian government strengthening its cash laws and the European Financial Commissioner Mairead McGuinness rejecting suggestions Europe is becoming cashless, making it clear that cash equals choice, and choice matters to EU citizens.

Progress was also seen in Australia, with major bank Westpac ‘putting a halt on Australia’s march towards a cashless society’ promising customers can conduct cash transactions in every one of their branches. Writing for Australia’s WAtoday, Money Columnist Victoria Devine also presents a positive view of how the benefits inherent to cash can complement cashless options to create a reliable and inclusive economy, with choice for everyone.

Australia should endeavour to champion a future that honours its diverse tapestry, where tradition and technology coalesce for the benefit of all.
"Victoria Devine, Money Columnist, WAtoday

In Africa, Kenyans opted to withdraw and spend cash in preference to using cashless options in order to avoid high transaction fees, with business owners calling on the government to revise charges and encourage greater payment choice. A few months later, the Worldcoin experiment—in which citizens were offered ‘free’ crypto tokens in exchange for their biometric data—was ended by the government mere weeks after its launch due to concerns over transparency regarding how and where personal data would be used. While different payment options each have their own advantages, the benefits of cash in a digital world include its lack of fees and the privacy it offers, requiring no personal data to surrendered.

Over in the Caribbean, an article in the Jamaica Gleaner summarised the ongoing importance of cash to Jamaicans, with resilience being a key issue. Cashless payments depend on electricity and an internet connection, plus the involvement of third parties, all of which can introduce problems that can severely delay or even render a payment impossible. For essentials such as medical services, discussed by author Dr Garth A. Rattray, cash is vital not just for privacy and choice, but as a backup for all cashless options.

In an article on the Singaporean National Youth Council Website, writer Han Xinyi is also clear on the benefits of retaining cash alongside digital payments, saying 'we should be reminded [they] cannot wholly replace the use of cash.' She cites recent disruption to DBS Bank’s digital services—which left people unable to make cashless payments—and the value of cash for budgeting as key reasons young people in particular should support cash.

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2024