• Andi Dela Torre-Gri

A Cashless Society

Our transition to a cashless society is something that’s eventually going to happen, but the pandemic seems to be speeding up this changeover.


Philippines


We’ve all had our fair share of long queues; be it at the bank, the public transport, or at the restaurant. As you know, it can be quite a hassle at times; luckily, we can now transact online. Thanks to innovations in payment technologies, all we need are a few clicks to get things done. Of course, there are still a few dealings that require cash, such as jeepney payments or sari-sari store payments, but with the global pandemic right now, it’s not impossible that we soon resort to e-payments for everything.

In Baguio City (Philippines), the local government is already working on implementing a cashless fare system; using QR codes and near-field communication (NFC) as replacements for cash. Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong has already signed a memorandum of agreement with SquidPay President Enrico Tamayo last July 13 to make this possible. Baguio City is the first LGU in the country to introduce a cash-free way to deal and transact within the city, as part of their efforts to make the summer capital a smart city.


In different parts of the country, more and more people are starting to adapt to digital payments as well. As per Nikkei Asian Review, Globe Telecom’s GCash (a popular mobile wallet application in PH) saw a 150% surge in users in just one month. Shopee also observed a 100% increase in ShopeePay transactions from people over 50. Yup! They're doing a great job catching up. Older people now don’t mind learning about digital transactions to reduce their risks of catching the virus.


Neighboring Asian Countries


As expected, China is leading the digital payment ecosystem, with 83% of its transactions made through mobile devices. Statista reports that “more than 765 million Chinese have completed at least 1 mobile transaction once a year”; that’s more than half of the country’s population of 1.3 billion (as of 2018).


In India, a country that has deep mobile penetration, e-payments are also progressing rapidly. As per one of the reports of global research and strategy firm Zinnov, Paytm (an e-commerce payment system in India) has 39 million daily active users. That’s a number higher than the total users of Google Pay and PhonePe (another digital payment company) combined.


Pros & Cons

Here are a few pros and cons of going cashless:

Pros:

Ease of use and convenience (no need to get out of the house!)

No change needed; you can key in the exact amount

Lower risk of crime because there’s no physical money to steal

More hygienic than traditional cash payment

Criminal syndicates (whose operations mostly involve cash) will find it harder to conduct business because all money movements will be tracked


Cons:

Great risk of cyberattacks and hacking of personal data

All transactions are monitored and recorded (surveillance)

The poor will have difficulty in sending or receiving money (those unbanked and those who have no access to internet)

Difficulty in accessing funds when there are technological glitches

Temptation to overspend, because it’s easier to shop and we don’t see physical bills leave our wallets


There’s no denying that everyone is starting to switch to digital alternatives in the name of public health. Are you fine losing the anonymity that comes with cash payments for safer, quicker, more convenient transactions?


How long do you think will it take before we shift to an entirely cashless society? What are your thoughts about this?

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