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Payment Methods: Has the “Death” of Cash Been Exaggerated?


Regardless of where you are based in the world, you will likely have seen media reports on the decline of (physical) cash in society. There might be local newspapers bemoaning the closure of neighborhood bank branches, or the removal of ATM machines in certain locales. You might even see coverage of how such measures impact the elderly, or others for whom there might be difficulties in using digital payments.

However, there is a general consensus that physical cash is expensive to operate in a system. The majority of adults have smartphones and thus can access a digital wallet of some kind. Moreover, online merchants will usually provide a plethora of payment options. For instance, if you are researching a real money casino in Canada, you’ll probably find that the top online platforms have a dozen or so different payment options available, ranging from cards to eWallets to prepayment options like Paysafecard.

Cash making a comeback

And yet, as inflation bites most countries globally, we are seeing reports that good old-fashioned hard cash might be making a comeback. The reason seems to be a psychological one, with people making cash withdrawals in order to manage their money a bit better in uncertain economic times. The logic is easy to follow: Head to the supermarket with $50 in your pocket, and you will likely budget your shop to ensure that it doesn’t exceed that amount; go with a credit card, and you are potentially going to be a bit more frivolous with your spending.

We have seen evidence of this shift to cash in countries as diverse as Canada, the UK, and India. And many more banks in individual countries are reporting similar surges in demand for physical currencies. The phenomenon is an interesting one, particularly as a sociological study. Of course, it flies in the face of the current models of technology. In the 2020s, fintech providers (and many cryptocurrency projects) are focused on making money more digital, flexible, accessible, and fast. But there is a sense among some that having cash on hand might be a little too easy.

Amazon in your palm

Indeed, consider the roll-out of Amazon’s new “palm-pay” technology, which the retail giant has now extended to its division of Whole Food grocery stores. The idea is that you register your handprint with Amazon, then simply check out with a wave of your hand on a receptor when doing your groceries. It’s convenient, right? But is it more of a luxury than a necessity? After all, it only takes an extra second to make the payment with your phone or tap a debit card. Even paying with cash is only going to take an extra few seconds.

But the assumption among those monitoring the resurgence of cash withdrawals is that we consumers are all too aware that easy payments mean more thoughtless purchases. We have all been guilty of making foolish online purchases that we later reasoned we couldn’t afford, but this has been turbocharged in the one-tap checkout era. The fact that Google and most retailers will auto-fill our details takes away another hurdle, making us less likely to change our minds.

So, this revival of cash – some banks have reported an increase in demand of 20% – is bucking the trend. We will have to wait and see whether it is something that sticks, or if it is a temporary trend in a period where many of us are looking at our spending habits. But it seems that cashless societies are not yet in full bloom, and the rising tide of payment technology has been held back – for a while.