Singapore plans to reduce the role of cash and checks in its economy by encouraging banks to switch to digital payments, according to the head of the country's central bank. "For consumers, the use of cash for daily payments is high," Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said at a financial technology conference on Friday. "For businesses, the use of checks is relatively high too." Menon said cash in circulation in Singapore is the equivalent of 8.8 percent of gross domestic product, compared to just over 2 percent in Sweden. An average of 12.7 checks were written per person in Singapore in 2014, compared with practically none in Sweden, he added.
The Urban Deli cafe in Stockholm no longer accepts cash for any transactions. Going cashless is a growing trend throughout Sweden that some are beginning to question. The Urban Deli cafe in Stockholm no longer accepts cash for any transactions. Going cashless is a growing trend throughout Sweden that some are beginning to question. Cash is still king around the world, but there are pockets of places, especially in Europe, moving away from cash.
Earnest efforts are underway in both the public and private sectors to promote cashless payments ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Credit cards, electronic money and other cashless systems account for 20 percent of all consumer payments in Japan, compared with 40 percent to 60 percent in the United States, European countries and China. The government and businesses consider it essential to substantially reduce society's reliance on cash to stimulate spending by those expected to visit Japan for the Olympics and other international athletic events. The long-rooted custom of using checks to pay in North America and Europe meant they smoothly and quickly embraced credit cards and other cashless means of payment. In Sweden, where transporting cash is difficult in wintertime, most people are said to use a smartphone-based system called Swish, and an increasing number of stores are no longer accepting cash.
It looks as if the days of cash are numbered. Last year card payments accounted for over half of all retail transactions in the UK. Contactless payments are booming as people opt to wave a piece a plastic rather than fumbling around for change. The slow slide towards a cashless society looks inevitable. But if cash is on the way out, why is the Bank of England bothering to replace paper £10 notes with new polymer ones this week?
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