Cash is Simple

Dec 15, 2023

Cash makes paying so simple a child can do it. With no terms and conditions, working instantaneously, every time, physical money is an easy, quick and intuitive way to buy and sell that saves everyone time and energy.

The speed of cash payments can be appreciated in many circumstances—from a supermarket queue to a market stall—but it reaches peak importance when rapid service is key to a good customer experience and maximising retailer income. Singapore’s famed hawker centres (large food courts with vendors offering a wide variety of dishes) is a perfect example of this, and hawkers prefer cash. Customers can be served quickly, meaning they get to eat faster and the hawkers have a higher turnover. The instant exchange of physical money also cuts down on scams, with hawkers reporting the delays and uncertainties inherent in cashless transactions—waiting for a card to be approved, or for money to be transferred via app—can be exploited by unscrupulous individuals, resulting in loss of income for small businesses.

The relative complexity of cashless payments, such as the involvement of third parties including card providers, network and hardware suppliers, also means added costs. While consumers are often unaware of these fees, businesses face difficult decisions about how much of them to absorb and how much to pass on to their customers. Using cash can help support smaller businesses with tighter profit margins, and also keep costs down for everyone using the business.

The simple nature of cash and its usability by anyone is also beneficial when delivering aid to people in need. The United Nations World Food Programme provides cash-based assistance to tackle emergencies and humanitarian crises, with its latest report painting an encouraging picture of how rapid and targeted delivery of physical currency supports people in making positive changes to their own lives and the communities in which they live.

Cash offers immediate aid. It can be placed directly into someone’s hand and that person—regardless of age or technical knowledge—can then use it to buy whatever goods and services they require, with value being transferred directly between them and a vendor with no third parties taking a cut.

Whether buying street food in Singapore or paying at a mom-and-pop store in rural America, choosing cash makes a transaction quick, private and simple, and keeps money within a local community.

But simplicity 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: Dec 15, 2023