If you’re confident enough to leave your wallet at home and rely only on your credit card or mobile device when taking a taxi, getting a cup of coffee, or buying groceries then you know that being cashless is not as big of a deal as it was a few years ago.
Blockchain technology seems to be the best promoter of this new lifestyle, however, the transition is already occurring even without its help. Maybe using the NFC (near field communication) function inside your phone is not that popular, but swiping a card is something that even your grandparents learned to do.
Everyone is aware of where payment systems are heading in the future, and it’s certainly not cash or any other physical assets: it’s all electronic.
From Sweden, where only 2% of transactions are currently made in cash, to restaurants like New York’s Amazon Go stores refusing to accept cash, companies are crafting solutions for a cashless future, and the NEXXO project is helping to hasten that transition with a blockchain-powered solution for small businesses and their customers while being in full compliance with local banks, law enforcement, and local governments. Would you have thought that to be possible? Well, it is and we’re going to explore their solution in this article.
Who’s ditching cash?
Major global hubs are already ditching cash in favor of digital currency. Who’s going to be the one reaching 100% digital payments? We’ll have to wait and see!
Sweden is one of the best examples of a cashless economy today. The percentage of cash in circulation in Sweden has fallen dramatically, representing less than 1.2% of the nation’s GDP. Only 2% of transactions are made in cash and it’s anticipated that the number will decrease to less than half a percent by 2020. That’s next year!
“Cash is really disappearing in Sweden. It’s not accepted at many businesses and many banks won’t deal with cash anymore,” explained Rod Garrett, an economics professor at the University of California.
It’s common to see “No cash accepted” signs throughout Swedish shops. There are even banks that don’t handle cash anymore. The biggest of all, The Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, is developing a cryptocurrency for mobile payments, called e-Krona. It’s not all about going strictly digital, though. It’s about safety and efficiency. That’s why they are considering creating a blockchain-based asset for smaller payments between consumers and entities.
While the Swedish government is supporting the cashless movement, the US, where cash-free establishments spread in recent years, is seeking to introduce legislation banning this kind of store. The main reason? They are promoting racism and elitism.
“Most of the people who don’t have credit tend to be lower income, minority, immigrants. It just seemed to me, if not intentional, at least a form of discrimination,” said William Greenlee, a Philadelphia City Councilman.
And these are not just words. Massachusetts along with the city of Philadelphia have already banned stores that are rejecting cash as payment. It will be no surprise if New York or New Jersey will impose similar measures.
The new law hasn’t even been introduced properly and companies found a potential for a loophole. As Jim Kenney signed off the change that outlaws stores which don’t accept cash, a store can still use only app-based transactions if a paid membership is required to shop there. Amazon Go stores, which have no cash registers but require an app and an Amazon account (membership) to gain entrance does not fall under the purview of this law.
Where there is demand, there will always be a way.
The Indian government is taking things slowly, but it’s giving clear signs that being cashless is the long-term goal. In 2016, India banned 500 and 1,000-rupee notes. The measure was controversial, mostly because it was implemented under the pretext of reducing criminal behavior and roughly 99% of those banknotes have been removed. Since then, electronic transactions increased, but crime rates remained high. After all, this backfired towards cryptocurrencies being blamed for criminal use, resulting in the complete ban of cryptocurrencies.
Last year, the Reserve Bank of India ordered financial institutions to stop providing services to businesses involved with cryptocurrency, allowing for a three-month grace period. That period has passed and whether or not the Indian government will lift the ban or not remains to be seen.
There’s nothing much to say regarding Chinese government support. However, you can easily tell people’s choice of a cashless society. What’s interesting in this case is that most of the population are avoiding cash and credit cards. They prefer payment applications like Alipay, which currently dominates the space being valued to $150 billion.
The tiny island-state is notable due to its openness to new ideas. Actually, the government is supporting its population towards a cashless economy through the Smart Nation initiative. Making it a public movement, the seniors (14.4% of the country’s population) who are still using cash as their only mode of payment know where to find support and become part of the transformation. Could this be the last impediment before becoming completely cashless?
Brits no longer carry significant amounts of cash. Just three in every 10 transactions are made in cash. It’s not like it is in Sweden, but they’re making visible progress. It took them a decade to lower themselves from six in 10 and it’s expected to fall to just one in 10 in the next five years.
The UK government has seen the trend and they are pushing towards a cashless future. It’s not only about convenience, it’s about the £5 billion a year the cash infrastructure currently costs to run. But the solution is not that straightforward. A portion of these funds need to be redirected towards a digital infrastructure first. With last year’s incident when shoppers across the UK discovered that their Visa cards had inexplicably stopped working due to a network failure, the mission becomes harder and harder.
A reliable infrastructure
Governments move slow when it comes to technology adoption, while private companies are willing to adopt and test them. Our best example is NEXXO, a financial technology company. Not new to the market, they have been active and profitable since 2014. They’ve seen the potential in blockchain technology and designed a blockchain-powered financial services platform for small businesses.
While big companies have the resources and necessary support from large commercial bankers to handle digital customer purchases, employee salaries, or bill and tax payments, the small companies are left aside, delaying the day when we’re going to become entirely cashless. That’s where NEXXO steps in with a banking solution that addresses the underserved and underbanked small business owners.
NEXXO made a test run once the platform proved itself fully functional, and this is how QPay has seen huge success in Doha, Qatar. The market demand made it the fastest growing fintech company in the Middle East, issuing more than 380,000 bank cards (MasterCard branded) for over 15,000 small local businesses. That’s right. Real bank cards tied to a local bank account with an IBAN. NEXXO fully complies with local regulatory laws and regulations imposed by the local central bank, government, ministries, and law enforcement entities.
The company is expected to expand into Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Egypt, and China in the following years, replicating the success they had in Qatar. As you’ve seen, some regions are more open to a cashless future than others, however, by having the technical solution in place, NEXXO is able to propose a structure that helps central banks take cash out of their system, local banks increase their deposits, Visa and MasterCard expand their transactions, and small businesses get the necessary banking services for cash-free operation.
It’s pretty clear that we are becoming a cashless society. But by when? That’s the real question. Debit card transactions just overtook their cash equivalents in 2017. The battle is half won. Now the only thing left is to find new solutions to help hasten the process. NEXXO is already doing its part. From their approach and from our market analysis, the way to reaching a completely cashless system will be segmented, with each region helping its own customers, businesses, and local banks make the transition. When do you think your home country will be ready to ditch the banknotes?