MasterCard Report Outlines Global Shift Away from Cash (Oct. 8, 2013)
Economies around the world are making the move away from cash, and the shift largely is being driven by new technologies, government initiative and consumer preference, according to a new report by MasterCard Advisors.
Among the countries the report describes as the most “cashless” are: Belgium, where 93 percent of total consumer spending in 2011 was cashless; France (92 percent); Canada (90 percent); the U.K. (89 percent); Sweden (89 percent); Australia (86 percent); and the Netherlands (85 percent). In those nations, cashless payments have reached ubiquity because of the uptake of new payment technologies, such as mobile, contactless and EMV chip, along with a modern payments infrastructure, the report found. Other global markets—including the U.S. (80 percent cashless) and Singapore (69 percent)—are considered to be at the “tipping point” of cashless. In those nations, remaining cash use is largely the result of consumer habit.
Further down the cashless spectrum are countries that have recently installed a complete, modern consumer payments infrastructure, including Brazil (57 percent cashless), South Africa (43 percent) and Poland (41 percent). With payments frameworks now in place, those markets are seeing a rapid move away from cash, according to the study. But China has had the most rapid shift toward cashless, with cash usage declining by as much as 20 percent between 2006 and 2011. Currently, 55 percent of consumer transaction volume in China is cashless. China and the United Arab Emirates (26 percent cashless) were among the markets where governments have made a strong push toward developing electronic payments, the report said.
“While each nation’s journey [toward cashless] is unique and requires an understanding of local realities, the benefits that come with a more cashless society are universal: more convenience for consumers; better efficiencies for governments; higher productivity for businesses; and greater financial inclusion for society as a whole by bringing more citizens into the economic mainstream,” said Kevin Stanton, president, MasterCard Advisors.