It’s hard to imagine living in a world without cash. For hundreds of years, people have been using cash to pay for what they need. If you believe that a cashless future is impossible, think again! Many countries have been transitioning to cashless spending for years. Sweden, for example, is frequently considered the most cash-free society in the world. According to the Swedish tourism authority, most Swedish bank branches don’t handle cash, and most retailers don’t accept it.
But Sweden isn’t alone in its move toward a cashless lifestyle. Other governments, like India, Denmark, and Australia, have taken steps to reduce consumer usage of cash by eliminating small bills. Even here in the U.S., there’s been a noticeable movement away from using cash, even in the past few years.
Like it or not, there are many benefits to moving away from cash and toward more convenient digital spending options. But there are plenty of drawbacks too, especially for consumers who don’t rely on the traditional banking system.
Pros and Cons of a Cashless Society
— Less money laundering and tax evasion
— Fewer instances of violent crime and theft
— Consumers may find it easier to stick with a budget if they don’t have physical cash to spend
— Faster transaction times
— Access to contactless payments, which can stop the spread of contagious illnesses (coronavirus, anyone?)
|— Every dollar you earn or spend can be tracked|
— Would be a hardship for a large portion of society who are considered “unbanked”
— Potential for fees
— Third parties are given control of your money
— Possibility of technology downtime
Advantages of a Cashless Society
If you rely on technology to manage your money, you may not notice a huge change if society stopped using cash. However, those who do use cash might find that giving it up makes things way more manageable and less time-consuming. Other benefits include:
Reduction in Money Laundering and Tax Evasion
When every dollar is tracked through credit cards, debit cards, and other forms of technology, it’s difficult to launder money or avoid paying taxes on your income. Moving to a cashless society would instantly make fraud considerably more challenging to pull off.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the move from cash-based welfare payments to cashless EBT payments led to a “substantial drop in street crime as measured by either reports or arrests” over the last few decades. It’s easy to believe that the same principle will apply when fewer people have cash in their wallets to steal.
Potential for Better Budgeting and Money Management
While you can make a monthly budget with cash, doing so can be burdensome, since you’ll always need to carry cash around with you. Plus, since it’s hard to pay bills online with cash, you’ll need to have a way to make these payments anyway.
Read: 11 Disadvantages of Using Cash
With a cashless budgeting app, you have the ability to monitor each dollar you spend, and you’ll never have to carry a wad of cash around.
Paying with cash and accepting cash takes time and energy. You have to count up the exact dollar amount to pay for your purchase, and your cashier has to count the money, make change, and enter it all in their register.
With cashless transactions, on the other hand, you insert your card into a terminal and it’s all done for you.
Because of the recent global pandemic, we’ve all become more aware of disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Many retailers offer contactless payment options, meaning that you don’t even have to touch the payment terminal to make your payment. Touchless transactions can lead to much better hygiene, compared to handling money, since it’s been proven that cash is covered with microbes that harbor disease.
Disadvantages of a Cashless Society
Going cashless may seem great, but every significant change comes with its share of pros and cons. Besides the fact you wouldn’t be able to slip a $20 bill into a birthday card anymore, here are five disadvantages of a cash-free future:
Every Dollar is Tracked
It’s a relief to know that a cashless world makes it harder for criminals to hide their illegal transactions. But having all your transactions tracked? No thanks. Once you’re living in a cash-free society, a third party will have a record of every purchase you make. Even if you have nothing to hide, this idea can be disconcerting for many.
Hardship for the Unbanked
A 2017 survey from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) showed that 6.5 percent of U.S. households were “unbanked.” This means that they didn’t have a traditional checking or savings account. It’s easy to see how a cashless society would make it hard for these people to pay bills. Unfortunately, a large portion of this unbanked population is made up of marginalized groups.
Potential for More Fees
For everyone involved, it’s free to use cash. On the flip side, third party payment platforms can charge fees to consumers, and retailers have to pay fees to accept electronic payments. If society moved away from cash, consumers would need to watch out for fees they might be charged.
Read: Strengths & Weaknesses of Online Digital Banks
Third Parties Have Control
It’s easy to worry about a world where third parties have full control over every dollar in your possession. You may wonder whether not having any cash makes Americans vulnerable to government control, or to third parties who might be inclined to drive up fees for each purchase we make.
Let’s be real: technology doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. Yet a world without cash is one where we would all be dependent on technology to access our money.
Why You Should Consider Going Cash-Free
No matter the pros and cons of going cashless, you have the option to decide for yourself. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with keeping cash around to use for tips or fun money. But there can be big advantages that come with not using cash for regular purchases and bills.
While cash budgeting is still a viable option, many people are finding that technology makes managing their money faster and more seamless. Not carrying cash also reduces the chance you’ll be a victim of theft, and — let’s face it — carrying money around is a huge pain anyway.
You may find there are more benefits to managing money with technology than you realize. Online apps and digital payments make it easier to budget alongside a partner or spouse, for example, and you may never have to visit a brick and mortar bank again.
How to Get Ahead in a Cashless Society
If you want to better manage your money without dealing with bills and change, there are plenty of steps you can take right away. The following tips can help you get ahead with technology instead of dollars and cents:
- Sign up for Qube Money. A cashless envelope banking app can help you manage your money and reach your savings goals way faster. Qube Money offers the best of both worlds. In the app, you’ll set up and spend from digital envelopes called “qubes” that help you spend with purpose in every area of your life. Qube Money is a full-service cashless banking platform that enables you to save for goals, pay down debt, pay your bills, invest, and create a wealthier future. Try the free version of Qube Money today!
- Set limits and track your spending each month. Moving away from cash and toward digital payments makes it way easier to track your spending throughout the month. You won’t have to carry cash or track your purchases. And you’ll never have to keep an envelope of receipts.
- Make your savings automatic. Another benefit of digital money management is the fact that you can set up automatic transfers or use roundup technology to fund savings or investment accounts.
- Enjoy the perks of digital banking. Finally, don’t forget how much easier digital banking can make your life. Features like online bill pay, mobile check deposit, direct deposit, payday two days early, high-yield savings accounts, subscription controls, automatic payments, and more, can easily save you several hours every month.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to how we manage our money, technology has changed the way we live. Instead of being worried about a cashless society, consider embracing the benefits instead.
There’s much to be gained by using technology to effectively manage your money. And chances are, cash will always be around for those who need it.