The Analogue Joy of Cash

calendar iconMar 18, 2022

In an increasingly digital world, cash is among the physical products gaining new fans as young people discover the unique advantages of analogue items.

Cash is enjoying fresh popularity amongst Gen Z consumers, with a recent survey spanning ten countries revealing it is the top payment choice for people born between 1996 and 2015. This newfound recognition coincides with news that worldwide board game sales are expected to grow almost 10 percent by 2026 and U.S. vinyl sales were up 51 percent in 2021, signalling a rising interest in tangible, physical products among young people.

There are obvious advantages to cash in the modern age. Privacy is an increasingly rare commodity, with every digital transaction tracked and built into a profile that can, at best, be monitored by authorities and monetised by third parties, and at worst hacked and exploited by criminals. Paying cash offers anonymity, as only the payer and payee need be aware of the transaction.

There is also an immediacy to cash payments that single them out among the array of options now available. This is especially valuable for small traders who can find themselves falling prey to scams, such as showing screenshots of genuine transactions they have previously made as proof of payment, or quickly showing a pre-payment page then not actually approving the transaction. Such problems have led many hawkers in Singapore’s famed food courts to prefer cash payments, with some choosing not to allow cashless payments at all.

The physical nature of notes and coins also confers more subtle benefits. Handing over cash is a different, more social experience compared with sending money digitally, and is still the preferred way to settle personal debts according to a 2021 study in the U.S. It also lies at the heart of countless celebrations worldwide, including Lunar New Year and Christmas.

The rapid evolution of digital payments and interactions bring exciting new opportunities to the world. They will not, however, mean the demise of cash any more than signalling the end of all in-person events, since notes and coins offer unique advantages that deepen and enrich the human experience.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2022