Industry pundits for years now have beendoing their best to accurately predict exactly when cash will nolonger remain a significant payment instrument in the hands andwallets of consumers. For some, the demise of cash is impending,and for others, its ultimate end is down the road but comingnonetheless.
At the moment, however, cash remains a significant player in thepayment mix to consumers worldwide. Many emerging markets arecategorized as “cash cultures” where the local population uses cashalmost exclusively to purchase goods and service. Cash, however,remains relevant in more mature markets such as the United Kingdom,which highlights the enduring appeal of paper.
The UK Payments Council in June published a report saying thenumber of cash payments rose 0.2 billion in 2012 to reach 20.8billion, some 54 percentof all payments made. Commenting on the report, David Hensley,Head of Cash at the Payments Council said: “Cash is still a vitalpart of our day-to-day lives, and more than half of all ourpayments are in cash, reflecting its easy use and its wideacceptance.”
Wide or universal acceptance is one of cash’s core strengths (theother strengths being universal anonymity and budget control) and amajor factor in why consumers use cash over other paymentinstruments. The three major strengths for cash, however, are notthe only encouraging for consumers to continue to use it.
Consumers cite cash’s convenience as the leading factor for usingit, according to Mercator Advisory Group’s CustomerMonitor SurveySeries. Cash is still convenient for small transactions despite thelittle time it takes to swipe a card or insert one into a reader.Until a payment form such as contactless gains more tractionoutside select markets, cash will remain a consumer’s preferencefor small-ticket items.
The number of cash alternative has multiplied in recent years, butone of the world’s oldest payment instruments is still showingresilience and enduring popularity with consumers. For moreinformation on international trends in consumer cash use, as wellas an examination of some of the leading factors that willdetermine whether cash remains a dominant payment instrument, seeCardtronics’ CashStrategy Session on PaymentsJournal.