Will the vision for a cashless society be realized in the wake of Covid-19?

Published: September 2, 2020 by Steven Wagner, Managing Director, Global Decision Analytics

It was Dr. Simon Ramo’s vision of a ‘cashless society’, made possible by information and technology, that led to the creation of Experian’s business in the U.S. in the 1960s. He could see how information was going to change the way people lived and envisioned a future where systems would enable the rapid transfer of information to establish patterns of payment and individual creditworthiness. The democratization of digital financial tools and initiatives to improve financial literacy can create promising beginnings for countless disadvantaged individuals.

Fast-forward to the present, and the global Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has taken the world by storm, proving a catalyst for an accelerated path towards a cashless society.

Our recent proprietary research indicates that:

  • Since Covid-19, we’ve seen growth in the use of mobile wallets (+8%), such as Apple Pay, and retail apps (+6%), such as Starbucks.
  • The largest areas of growth for using digital payment methods are online grocery shopping (+7% increase) and ordering food (+6%).
  • 50% of consumers globally intend to increase their online activities (banking, payments and shopping) in the next 12-months.

Over the past decades, many developing countries such as India and China have recognized the value digital payments deliver to communities. Those governments are fully invested in their cashless society initiatives with a view to increase financial inclusion, improve security, boost trust online, and leverage their high mobile penetration rates to expand the adoption of mobile payments and services.

A cashless society brings greater visibility into a larger number of transactions, reducing the potential risk of money laundering, bribery and corruption. It also allows central banks to have a more accurate view into how much money is in circulation, helping them prevent cash hoarding. On the other hand, businesses don’t need to maintain cash reserves, bank their cash payments or pay bank charges for withdrawing physical currency, which means that less ATMs to service and less cash to process leads to more resources to put at the service of their customers.

More about our research

From June 30 – July 7, 2020, we commissioned an independent research firm to survey consumers and businesses in 10 countries worldwide to understand the impact of Covid-19 on changing consumer trends and behaviors and business strategies and operations.

>> See New global research insights: The impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviors and business strategies for more insights from this study

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