Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Mar 27, 2012

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Moving Closer to a Cashless Society

At Visa we often talk about the many benefits merchants get by accepting digital currency and shifting their businesses away from cash. In fact, it’s not just Visa. The migration away from cash has generated a lot of discussion on the Internet during the past few days.

In a blog on the Huffington Post, author David Wolman observes that the U.S. is well on its way to this kind of broad acceptance, reducing costs for merchants, consumers and society alike. In his words, cash is “inconvenience incarnate” and, with the advent of the latest technology like mobile, “cash is getting bumped further and further to the edges of our everyday lives.”

Some of that savings comes from not having to produce physical bills and coins. A piece in points out that the sheer cost of producing U.S. coins is immense and inefficient: In 2011, “for the first time in history, both the five-cent and one-cent denominations cost double their value to produce.” And, notes the Atlantic Monthly: “Cash and coins are unwieldy. They’re heavy. They’re dirty.”

If you want a glimpse of what a cashless future might be like, all you need to do is look at what’s happening in Sweden. According to a recent AP news story, Sweden has converted almost its entire economy to digital currency, from bus fares to all kinds of business. In fact, cash today represents just 3 percent of the Swedish economy.

But convenience and reducing costs are just two of the advantages of acceptance. In Sweden, it’s also credited with a significant decline in cash crime, the AP reports: The number of bank robberies plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011, the lowest level in 30 years. Armored car robberies are down, too. When thieves know people are unlikely to carry cash, they are less likely to target them for street crimes.

This is what motivates us to extend the benefits of digital currency and fulfill our mission of being best way to pay and be paid, everywhere and for everyone. It’s why we keep expanding the number of locations where Visa is accepted and the ways consumers can use their cards. The more merchants that understand the value of accepting digital currency – access to more consumers and business channels (such as online and mobile), guaranteed payment, an enhanced customer experience – the closer we will come to that cashless society.

Posted by: Ted Carr, Visa Corporate Relations on March 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

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