Idealog - - IDEALOG / KIWIBANK -

With plas­tic the pre­ferred method of pay­ment for most trans­ac­tions and with mo­bile pay­ments tak­ing off, the ques­tion on ev­ery FinTech en­thu­si­ast’s lips is: Is so­ci­ety on the verge of be­com­ing 100 per­cent cash­less?

Ifit’ s go­ing to hap­pen any­where, Swe­den, the first Eu­ro­pean na­tion to print pa­per money, is prob­a­bly the place.

Led by Björn Ul­vaeus – yes, the one from ABBA–and bol­stered by t he coun­try’s ro­bust IT in­fra­struc­ture and pro­gres­sive tem­per­a­ment, Swe­den is now look­ing se­ri­ously at go­ing en­tirely cash-free. The ra­tio­nale? To save cost and to pull the rug out from un­der­neath crim­i­nals, in­clud­ing tax dodgers, who de­pend on anony­mous and un­trace­able phys­i­cal cash to ex­ist. Re­move t he cash and you re­move the black mar­ket( or so the think­ing goes ).

It cer­tainly looks good on pa­per, al­though some are con­cerned about t he pri­vacy im­pli­ca­tions, and the cre­ation of an app called Swish t hat was cre­ated by a con­sor­tium of Nordic banks and al­lows cash to be trans­ferred in­stantly be­tween ac­counts with­out any fees means that mil­lions of lo­cal snow use the a pp to pay for food, bus fares and even church do­na­tions.

"One thing that's quite funny is that when you col­lect these days, there are some who will raise their mo­bile phone in the air to show that they are giv­ing," Swedish Church spokesman Mats Lager­gren told Bloomberg.

The app is now used by over 50 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion and is adding 100,000 users a month, and when sur­veyed about how Swedes paid for their most re­cent pur­chase, only 16 per­cent said cash in 2016, down from 33 per­cent in 2012.

But if In­dia’s re­cent at­tempts to de­mon­e­tise demon­strate any­thing – the gov­ern­ment with­drew all 500 and 1,000-ru­pee notes, or 86 per­cent of the cash in cir­cu­la­tion, overnight – it’s that the work­ing poor are as vul­ner­a­ble to stri­dent anti-cash poli­cies as any black mar­ket crim­i­nal.

93 per­cent of t he coun­try worked ‘ off- t he- books’, so to speak, so in In­dia the move quickly de­volved into a fi­nan­cial emer­gency with small busi­nesses strug­gling to stay afloat, stag­ger­ing queues at ATM sand even re­ports of sui­cides and mur­der. De­spite t his pain, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi was voted back inin the re­cent elec­tions, with many say­ing it was nec­es­sary to help deal with the coun­try’ s crip­pling cor­rup­tion prob­lems.

In New Zealand, a re­cent MasterCard sur­vey showed 90 per­cent of Ki­wis used a card as t heir main pay­ment method and 41 per­cent of con­sumers said they could live with­out cash in just a few years’ time. Half of those sur­veyed didn’t think we will be us­ing cash in ten years.

When it came to the types of pay­ment tech­nol­ogy likely to take off ,59 per­cent said mo­bile pay­ments, 47 per­cent said wear­able tech­nol­ogy like smart­watches and 42 per­cent said bio­met­rics such as fa­cial recog­ni­tion and fin­ger prints.

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