We reported earlier that cash and coins were being used and accepted less in Sweden. The shift to make cash money a thing of the past in the country has sparked controversy and impacted its people tremendously. Some people feel safer because crime has visibly decreased in the region while the rural elderly find it increasingly more difficult to make business transactions and learn how to use technology.
A new Pew study predicts that mobile payments may replace cash and credit cards by 2020. Tech experts also believe “credit cards and cash will survive for use by some types of consumers and because of security concerns and a desire for anonymity.”
Anonymity was another issue raised by Swedes. The problem with a cash and credit card-free economy is that there is a lack of privacy; all transactions leave a paper trail. This could be especially problematic for those who wish to donate to organizations anonymously or purchase intimate products. The solution on this end would be to offer other ways to pay for services that would protect consumer privacy.
Some 65% of those surveyed for the Pew study agreed with the statement: “By 2020, most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases they make, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards. People will come to trust and rely on personal hardware and software for handling monetary transactions over the Internet and in stores. Cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared from many of the transactions that occur in advanced countries.”
But other participants noticed flaws in America’s current system that complicate the shift: “Credit cards are already pretty convenient. I don’t think most consumers want to put their financial data at risk by connecting it directly to a communication device. Additionally, what’s the financial incentive for retailers to participate? They already hate paying credit card fees. Why would they pay to convert their entire revenue system again after just getting set up for credit cards?”
The shift to digital transactions will inevitably lead to greater profits for banks and deincentivize owning a small business if current policies are not amended. This is because many business owners will face considerable overhead in transaction fees: Hanna Celik, whose family owns a newspaper kiosk in a Stockholm shopping mall, says the digital economy is all about banks seeking bigger earnings. Celik says he gets charged about 5 Swedish kronor ($0.80) for every credit card transaction, and a law passed by the Swedish Parliament prevents him from passing on that charge to consumers.
Since the data from the study are based on a non-random sample, results are not projectable to any population other than that in the experiemnt. With that being said, the future of cash and credit cards remains uncertain.