Cash is Fair

Dec 22, 2023

Cash welcomes everyone, regardless of age, credit rating or technical ability. As a public service—not a profit stream—it also comes without strings attached, empowering individuals not companies.

Innovation in cashless payments is a positive development, but not one that is accessible to all. Cards require a bank account, excluding around 1.4 billion people worldwide. Payment apps also need an account, and additionally require hardware that can run them, with advances in technology and security excluding people with older devices.

Cash has no barriers to access. From the very young to the very old, and for people on all income levels, everyone can make and receive payments without requiring approval from a third party or understanding financial technology.

Signs that say ‘no cash accepted’ are a new kind of discrimination. They basically mean: ‘If you’re poor, stay out of my business.’
"Jay Zagorsky, Associate Professor, Boston University’s Questrom School of Business

Cashless options also introduce a for-profit element to every transaction, with people paying both directly (in ‘swipe fees’ that must either be borne by businesses or passed on to customers) and indirectly (with their transaction data, which is monetised by payment providers selling to third parties).

A recent article on financial news site Barrons highlights the current revenue boost being enjoyed Visa and Mastercard, with ‘more layers being added to what looks like a single transaction to a consumer.’ Giving the example of an Uber Eats order, the customer sees one payment, but it is in fact split between the restaurant and the delivery driver, maximising profit for the provider.

One transaction has actually expanded into three, translating into more network fees and revenue for Visa and Mastercard.
"Alexander Yokum, Analyst, CFRA Research

There is also the possibility of transactions being controlled, either by the payment industry itself or governments. With cashless payments depending on the involvement and approval of a third party, there is a risk of approval being withheld. One example is Australia’s reviled ‘cashless welfare cards’ that ringfenced 80 percent of the money loaded onto them to be spent only on approved items.

If you’re a citizen of an authoritarian country, you very quickly understand the implications of a cashless society. It means all your transactions go through institutions that can be watched, and you can be stopped from doing certain things.
"Brett Scott, Author, Journalist, Economic Anthropologist and Former Financial Broker

Fortunately, a cash-based transaction can be conducted solely between two people, with no oversight or hidden costs. Armed with banknotes and coins, an individual is empowered to make their own financial decisions and have absolute control over their purchases.

But fairness is just one of the joys of cash! Look for us on your social media channel of choice to see our full series and find out more about how cash supports an inclusive, secure and joyful world!

Last Updated: Jan 4, 2024