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Swedes turn against cashlessness (theguardian.com)
386 points by kawera 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 343 comments

Good. The cashless drive gives me the creeps.

1 - First, I like cash. It's tactile and gives me a feel for my spending.

2 - Cards are an duopoly, layered onto an oligopoly. Cashless gives this system a 2% tax on all spending (+ fraud, which retailers pay for).

3 - Government control is creepy too. Liberty reasons, privacy reasons, single-point-of failure reasons. Just simple competency reasons.

4 - It advantages big firms relative to small ones who pay lower fees for better service, and continues the trend to bigger firms. How does a cashless lemonade stand work?

Most transactions already are cashless, and all the rules around these are run by the banking-regulator-government complex. They wield tremendous control, and decide a lot about how businesses should run.

Remember paypal confiscating aid money, kickstarters and such... to be released gradually and when paypal was convinced that it should be? They basically decide which transactions should happen. This does not work on an innocent-until-guilty basis.

We've had a lot of financial regulation recently, bleeding way past the financial sectors. AML or whatnot. The lawyers love it because it's lawyerly, and demands lawyers. Governments love it because it because it makes everything auditable, in theory. Tax evasion, funding terrorism, buying grass become impossible. The big financial firms (especially CCs) love it because it entrenches their oligopolies. Big regular firm love it because they are good at bureaucracy and incumbents are not.

The bitcoin failure (I think it is) teaches something. People don't really give each other money. It's kind of illegal. Money is supposed to move between people and companies or companies and companies, not between people. There is no demand for Peter-pays-Paul.

I don't see any upside at all for, dare I say... we the people.

Cashless transactions don’t have to go through the card networks. Here in New Zealand around 2/3rds of all retail transactions are done via cards because many years ago the reserve bank mandated free inter-bank transactions. This means direct bank-to-bank transactions via the local EFTPOS network are free for both parties (with exceptions for some low-use plans, and businesses typically rent the terminals).

Also the local eBay equivalent TradeMe gained its popularity on this network. Given somebody’s bank account number I can transfer money to their account within an hour (used to be overnight until a few years ago). There’s no reversal for this so it’s safe for the seller, and since it’s a real bank there’s no way to freeze it without a court order.

The banks being banks of course are trying to ruin this, since using the big card networks gives them free revenue.

There are only 4 things that I still pay with cash: my cleaner, my cheese shop (who refuses to get a pin machine, the luddite), my son's allowance, and money for street performers and beggars.

The only thing for which I use credit cards are online purchases from foreign websites that don't support iDeal.

Everything else is through regular bank transactions, either through pin card, direct transactions, or iDeal. All Dutch banks support iDeal, and I wish the rest of the world would too because it's vastly superior to credit cards.

Can you share the reasons why it's vastly superior to credit cards?

Using my card, I get good post-purchase protection (via threat of chargeback or card issuer-provided warranty increase) and excellent fraud protection.

It's cheaper. More importantly, it's more secure, because it uses my bank's security system and doesn't rely on sending "secret" information like credit card numbers to unknown parties.

Everything is handled by my own bank, and if I don't trust my own bank, I can choose a better bank and use that. With credit cards, I have to use whatever payment provider the merchant uses, and either they or the merchant can hang on to my credit card number, which weirdly is sufficient to access my money. Also, there are only two credit card providers that really count; not a lot of choice there.

Chargebacks may seem attractive as a buyer, but they also mean that a seller can lose their money after they legitimately sent the goods. Merchants would have to track down individual customers to sue them to get their money back.

blows my mind that people overseas still use cash. Literally the only reason I ever get cash out is to buy weed

It depends a lot on where you go. Both Australia and Canada are easy to go through cashless, except for small stores due to the card fees. I don’t know about Canada but Australia has capped the card fees so debit cards are more popular than in NZ.

Still you don’t really see the vendors at small farmer’s markets with the payclip things like you do in NZ.

And now the cannabis shops in California take credit cards!

In addition, I like the finality of a cash transaction. For anything other than cash, I have to keep records in case something goes wrong. Example: A hotel might double-bill my credit card, and this has actually happened twice to me. If you pay cash, it's impossible to be double billed at some future point. Perhaps you still want a receipt, but you never need to check it against statements.

The finality of cash avoids having to keep, organize, and verify a lot of paper records if you don't really need the receipts.

There was a hotel in Brooklyn which required that I provide them a credit card for security deposit. Or was it not the norm?

Almost all hotels do this.

The finality of cash is also why I typically have none on me. Getting robbed, while rare, would suck real bad if I had more than $20 in my wallet.

> It's tactile and gives me a feel for my spending

Both in games with premium currencies like diamonds, and in real life with plastic cards and services, it's been shown time and again that the further you are from actual cash the more you spend.

This can't be emphasised enough and is, to my mind, a near complete explanation of the drive for cashless. We, as good consumers, will spend more in a cashless world.

When we were struggling to make ends meet after the dot com bust we slowly realised this, and came to draw out cash first for everything possible. If the cash wasn't there first, it did not get bought. I will still, nearing 20 years on, draw cash prior to shopping, or buying fuel etc. Debit cards get used online. The credit card lives in a drawer. Unused and balance free for years.

I’m reminded of the benefits of cash whenever I go certain parts of SEA, like the Philippines, where using cash is actually more convenient than using a card (less time dealing with receipts and signatures, don’t have to hope their credit card machine has a working connection, etc.)

For this same reason, we pay our kids allowance in cash and when they buy toys or other things with it, we make sure they are the one to take the cash out of the little cash purse, carry it in their pocket to the store, and they are the one to physically hand the cash over the cashier.

I don't care if it would be 10x easier and I'd get 1.5% cashback on the purchase with the credit card; I want them to have the experience and understand that they are trading away a limited resource that took time and effort to acquire, not just mindless swipe/stick/tap.

The bitcoin failure (I think it is) teaches something. People don't really give each other money. It's kind of illegal. Money is supposed to move between people and companies or companies and companies, not between people. There is no demand for Peter-pays-Paul.

That last bit, that's a profound observation. There is some real demand, but not much. More so there is theoretical demand. In theory I want the option to pay with cash because dammit I want that last vestige of freedom from being tracked and taxed.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. -Goethe

Cash is an important palliative for the feeling that perhaps we aren't as free as we would like to believe.

As mentioned elsewhere, "Peter-pays-Paul" is huge in Scandinavia.

MobilePay, a person-to-person payment app in Denmark, is a huge deal here. It had 3 million users in 2016 (out of 7 million people!), and its second-priority shop payment feature (that arrived much later) is challenging credit cards. It's used for everything from selling used goods to splitting bills.

Swish, the Swedish equivalent, has 4 million users.

Vipp, the Norwegian equivalent, has 2.7 million users.

Peter-pays-Paul has huge demand here. Bitcoin is just a terrible solution to that problem.

(uggedal provided the Swedish and Norwegian numbers).

Only 5.7 million people, actually, but otherwise, yeah.

Note, though, that it's not really just Peter paying Paul, as the transaction is still between their respective banks with everything that entails. And a MobilePay account is actually tied to a specific payment card. I have had a MobilePay transaction refused (and from a public institution, no less) because my account did not involve a Dankort, the only payment card the institution deemed acceptable.

Oh, damn, I mixed up the DK population with the world population. Just makes the number more incredible. :)

Anyway, it is really Peter paying Paul. It is just centralized and in a stable currency, with all the benefits that entail, such as instant execution, ease of use and predictable outcome. It of course also has the downside: There are gate keepers, in the form of Danske Bank and other banks involved.

Bitcoin is also Peter paying Paul, but decentralized/p2p. And, frankly, this is its Achilles heel as much as it is its greatest feature.

You might be misunderstanding how MobilePay engaged with payment cards. Things have changed a bit since the start, but MobilePay originally asked for your dankort info to extract bank account information. It performed direct bank transfers, screwing Nets over for transaction fees (anything screwing over Nets is good for mankind).

However, because people demanded the support, "real" credit cards was later added (not sure if only for shopping), but they're likely letting stores eat the fees. Thus, they probably let the store pick whether they support cards that cost them fees. In general, the MobilePay used for stores is very different in function from the one used between users.

(I was in fintech with companies like Nets as client when MobilePay launched, but that is not the case anymore, so my info may be out of date.)

Thanks, I may need to review my understanding.

Tikkie, a Dutch equivalent, has 2 million users. Not as much as the Scandinavian countries (considering a 17 million population here), but that could be because some banks also have their own system. (Tikkie works with all banks and uses iDeal. Requests can be sent over whatsapp and similar systems.)

> I want that last vestige of freedom

Freedom always was an aristocratic privilege.

What they sold to the proles - with heavy advertising, at a price up to your life - was a cheap knock-off.

1. Can your cash do this? [1] A breakdown of spending by my internet bank, by category.

4. In Sweden, and some other European countries (and China?) a lemonade stand works by person-to-person bank transfers, initiated using a mobile phone app. The Swedish one is called Swish, but I link to the Danish one [2] as they have an English explanation.

People really do use these apps for things like lemonade stands. I've seen an unattended garage sale, where everything was priced and a sign gave a phone number for payment.

It's also commonly used person-to-person, e.g. if a friend owes me for a spare concert ticket, part of a restaurant bill or whatever.

[1] http://i.imgur.com/Smkim6Vr.png

[2] https://mobilepay.dk/da-dk/Pages/The-story-in-English.aspx

> 1. Can your cash do this? [1] A breakdown of spending by my internet bank, by category.

Yes, but not automatically. You have to manually log all your spending by category yourself.

Big data has advantages but you have to trade off your privacy in exchange for the convenience.

Built in privacy for some people is a feature. For others it’s a bug.

>1. Can your cash do this? [1] A breakdown of spending by my internet bank, by category.

No, neither can it break down my spending habits for the banks, the government, and anyone else with access (authorized or not) to that data. One of the most important reasons I use cash.

> 4. In Sweden, and some other European countries (and China?) a lemonade stand works by person-to-person bank transfers, initiated using a mobile phone app. The Swedish one is called Swish, but I link to the Danish one [2] as they have an English explanation.

The United States has this via Venmo. But Venmo doesn't replace business transactions, only personal ones.

Unlike Venmo, Swish lets you transfer money instantly between bank accounts. There are no social features like profile pictures, emojis, or public transactions. And it uses proper authentication, rather than typing your banking password into a third-party app.

Venmo falls well short of the transfer apps in most countries.

The US equivalent would be Zelle, that is person to person. Venmo is person to Venmo to person.

> [1] http://i.imgur.com/Smkim6Vr.png

Is this month's data an outlier or do you really spend $1000/month on fast food?!

It's in Danish crowns, so more like $150, and I also moved it away from a month.

Also, I can recategorize any transaction, or all transactions from any merchant. I think I set the canteen at work to "fast food", as it's a food category I almost never spend in otherwise.

(The interface is the default view of my online banking, but otherwise, I don't use it. It's very swish, but fortunately I don't need to budget this way.)

We have a verb in swedish for this: "I'll swish you 50 crowns" "Can you swish me 200?"

In Denmark "I'll MobilePay you 50 crowns" or "can you MobilePay me 200?", at least when speaking English.

My Danish isn't good enough to reliably say what it is when speaking Danish. Probably something like "Jeg mobilepayer dig halvtres¹ kroner"

The system in Britain (Paym) hasn't really caught on. They might be less keen to verb a noun.

¹ This is why I avoid discussing numbers in Danish.

Strangely, I have never heard it verbed that way in Danish. Alle I ever hear is the slightly laborious 'sender dig på MobilePay'.

But then again, I'm ancient.

The verbification of a foreign language word easily becomes awkward: "Mobilpayer du mig lige 50?". Yes, Denmark is so anglofile they chose an English word for a Danish payment service.

In Norway it's "I'll vipps you 50 crowns" or "jeg vippser deg 50 kroner". The verb is actually in the Norwegian dictionary now.

Thanks. This adds to my Norwegian vocabulary :) Not that this is very useful to me right now, but who knows, that bit might change.

In Dutch, you send someone a Tikkie, which is a payment request. We haven't verbed it as far as I can tell.

It's common parlance around people I know to use "Monzo me a tenner". Monzo has taken off pretty incredibly in some areas, it's just a bank though.

> 2 - Cards are an duopoly, layered onto an oligopoly. Cashless gives this system a 2% tax on all spending (+ fraud, which retailers pay for).

Not in the European Union where this fee is capped to 0,3%.

When it's free in the EU, then you'll have a point. Until then you're not addressing his argument.

The fee is a bit higher than 0.3% (which only is the regulated interchange – there are a few other costs as well) but the rate was decided upon after evaluating the cost of cash transactions (which aren't actually free – consider insurance against robbery, time spent counting every evening, transport to the bank, bank fees, and similar).

But surely the effective "tax" of moving cash around, losing it, practically unusably small amounts of change etc. is greater than 0.3% for the vast majority of use cases.

In DK, card processing fees must not be passed to the customer.

It's supposed to handle the problem, but we all know that the companies just increase prices to compensate.

In Netherland, you sometimes get an extra 2% charge when paying with credit card. The customer gets the choice: pay the extra costs associated with credit cards, or use a better payment system. Most use something better. Credit cards are mostly for online purchases abroad and for tourists.

I wasn't addressing his argument because I actually agree. I was just pointing out that the 2% is far off in Europe.

OP... I was simplifying.

I don't know the real number for the economy as a whole, but the experience I do have (mostly in the higher risk/cost "card-not-present" scenarios) actual transaction costs are always higher than they seem at first glance.

For example, retailers bear the majority of fraud risk. Add that in, and the cost of anti-fraud.. it adds up. Then there's the consumer side, where users "pay" fees, pay interest rates..

My point is that all these digital payment (including the paper-originally CCs) tend to become bottlenecks and oligopolies. Banks, CCs, gateways.. all tend to centralisation, regulation and low competition. All the ingredients for price inflation.

Why would it be free? Shouldn't you pay for the service?

Not when it is effectively forced as only means of payment.

The idea of having to pay a fee to a series of private companies in order to be permitted to use money is absurd.

As long as money creation and handling is delegated to private banks, how can you avoid this?

Dealing with cash isn't free to merchants either. And that cost is passed on to the customer.

Sure, governments that are pushing for a cashless society have ulterior motives. But you can't blame them for capping fees that used to be just spread onto everybody, regardless of the payment method. Now at least they're supposed to be comparable.

Dealing with cash is technically free to merchants.

Banks have gotten more and more greedy, and come up with new and creative ways to charge extravagant fees, and thus charge merchants for cash orders and deposits (even though it is free for private customers).

These fees are however a very different concept, as the bank here is only a storage service. The fees are entirely avoidable by buying a safe, and the fees are not related to money changing hands.

With a credit card, fees are unavoidable and part of the transaction itself, and they're not even going to your bank, meaning that they want a slice of the cake from elsewhere (despite them technically earning money on your stored money through investments).

Why shouldn't it be free? Would you accept an inescapable 0.3% tax on everything you bought?

I pay an inescapable 15% goods and services tax on everything I buy. So yes.

Which was supposed to benefit the "citizens" but it did not it cost me about £20 a month due to lost cash back - all the benefits where taken by big business.

Do you have a source for this? I never heard it before.

18 months on – Impact of the Interchange Fee Regulation on the European Union cards market [1]

[1] https://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/news-insights/insight...

With the amount of political pressure I've seen recently to cut off people from their income (advertiser boycotts, contacting employers directly, etc) I've wondered about money transfers and if people will start going after those companies next.

What recourse do you have if banks refuse to take your money? If credit card companies refuse to give you a line of credit? I don't know much about that level of infrastructure but it definitely seems ripe for abuse in this way. I don't know what laws govern this and it concerns me how the current system is set up that through activist pressure that people might not be able to sustain themselves for opinions that are declared outside the Overton window.

There are a number of options for people who have to or need to go bankless. Look around in any poor/immigrant neighborhood and you'll see ads for "currency exchanges" that act like banks, pre-paid charge cards, and companies willing to give all kinds of loans as long as they can verify employment or hold your car title.

It's not ideal, and it's very easy to get ripped off, but it's possible to live that way. Millions of people do.

Agree pretty much apart from the bitcoin failure part.

In nine years, bitcoin keeps on ticking and evolving. Segwit was/is a big deal, as lack of segwit held up further development. Lightning, x-chain atomic swaps, Schnorr signatures, MAST, side-chains to name a few additional features and improvements.

It's early days yet. Give it time.

The technology is fascinating. But almost nobody uses it as a currency.

> How does a cashless lemonade stand work?

In my neighborhood, with Square. Or at least that's how the kids a couple of streets over did it last year. With great big cartoony Visa and MasterCard logos on posterboard.

And I've heard of beggars with WeChat QR codes in China.

The bitcoin failure (I think it is) teaches something. People don't really give each other money. It's kind of illegal. Money is supposed to move between people and companies or companies and companies, not between people. There is no demand for Peter-pays-Paul.

In Denmark, the MobilePay system is massive, and challenging credit card payments.

It is designed entirely for person-to-person payments, and only later added support for shop purchases as a lower-priority feature. It is used for all sorts of things, including splitting bills and selling used goods, all legal.

Sweden has Swish, but I never figured out if it was popular. MobilePay, on the other hand, is huge.

Edit: "Swipp" -> "Swish". Swipp is dead.

Sweden has Swish with over 4 million users.

Norway also has a hugely popular p2p payment app called Vipps with 2.7 million users.

Disclaimer: I work for Vipps AS

Ah, sorry, Swipp was the Danish MobilePay competitor that died due to Danske Bank's disgustingly unfair play (they were part of the Swipp group, but started MobilePay development in the background and launched before Swipp did). I was of course referring to Swish.

MobilePay passed 3 million users in 2016 (out of ~7 million people). I don't have any updated statistics.

Anyway, with your added numbers, it is quite clear that at least in Scandinavia, person to person transfers are very common.

"1 - First, I like cash. It's tactile and gives me a feel for my spending."

"Going cashless" is a flavor of class warfare. There are some people that absolutely depend on, live on, cash. Believe it or not, there are people that do not have access to cards.

I keep waiting for the government to realize that "payment processors" have far more power to regulate the monetary supply than the federal central bank does. We've handed over the majority of transactions to these groups that charge a percentage based, I suppose, on the notion that transferring a larger number over a wire is significantly more difficult than transferring a smaller one. So if they want to set the nations monetary policy, they will. Want to increase the supply of money? Good luck if the payment processors decide to bump their cut up to compensate. Want to decrease it? Good luck when they bump their cut down to keep things as they are.

The EU is no stranger to heavily regulating them https://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/news-insights/insight...

Most of my money is spent on rent or online shopping.

Do people really have that much opportunity to spend cash? And for those opportunities, isn't the 2% tax a fairly reasonable price to pay for the safety of never needing to carry cash around and the convenience of never needing to go to an ATM or run out of cash?

I imagine petty theft crime has dropped significantly in large part because people stopped carrying cash.

I agree with the entirety of your comment, except for your specific points 1 and 2. Post facto, having spent cash gives you less insight into what it was spent on (unless you want to diligently duplicate the recording of a credit card with your own private ledger). And it's often cited that businesses accepting cash have real costs for doing so, which I tend to believe (armored cars, etc).

My point 1 was about me. I like using cash.

Point 2 is.. I think your reasoning about cash costs relates to point 4. These kinds of costs are something that big, high turnover businesses are concerned with. I don't think a tiny, rural cafe cares too much that €190 of its €780 daily take is cash.

In Poland (EU) we have BLIK system which allows for up to $1000 instant transfer for a phone number. Free of additional charge.

We pay with cards with paypass wirelessly without PIN for small amounts. This is faster than cash.

I recently stopped carrying coins and avoid paying cash.

And bank transfers are free in most banks. It takes half a day at most to reach destination bank.

5 - I can discretely "upgrade" my service level with particular individuals.

Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Seriously

thanks. :)

Cool. Now explain how online transactions will work in your cash-only society.

> How does a cashless lemonade stand work?

In my country even beggars accept cashless payments.

Looks like most people in this comments section are afraid to pass for a luddite if they don't support cashless transactions. But the argument about centralized system watching every payment you make is still valid. Why are people so eager to jump off something and irreversibly lose its good properties (anonymity, decentralization and reliability in case of analogue money) and that just for the sake of minor comfort? The idea of all that data about my shopping habits and credit history being held and possibly judged by someone makes me cringe. Apparently all this recent Facebook business and all similar cases teach people nothing. They hope that being a good boy/gal and having nothing to hide is all they and subsequent generations need, forever.

It's not just "centralized system watching every payment you make", but also a possibility that it could veto your payment.

The crude option is when 'undesirable' citizens will not be given credit cards, or if all their cards 'accidentally' stop functioning the same day to teach them a lesson. When no shop sells you food for money, your options are to beg, steal, or starve.

A more sophisticated option could be 'intelligent' credit cards that only allow you to buy approved stuff (otherwise the payment will fail); with the approval being general, or individual for each citizens, or depending on social class or whatever. This wouldn't happen overnight, but we can get there gradually... it may start by politically acceptable stuff like "you can't buy alcohol or guns using welfare money" and progress slowly.

When China starts going cashless we will get a look at exactly this scenario since it will very likely link with their citizenship score which is already implemented.

So many requirements for digital cash

- You want control to fight fraud/bad actors

- You don't want to much control for a single party (incl gov)

- It should work without necessary global communications (e.g. post disaster; global consensus like Bitcoin won't help there)

- Users want privacy

- Usual stuff like no double spending

- Transparency would be nice to verify correctness and no abuse by your bank

- Easy to use

We'll have a hard time finding a replacement satisfying them all. I wonder what we'll be willing to give up.

The problem too is that too many people believe our laws are just and moral. The US economy has become a slave to our ability to invent laws and automated ways to monitor and enforce them. And in a world where you already know 2% of the population is breaking a would be law, from a certain perspective the act of lawmaking is actually profit generation. It's the perfect crime.

The 'perfect crime' would be victimless. This is just corrupt legislators. Lets not glorify it.

The best feature of cash is that it allows you to make anonymous purchases, and to make illegal purchases.

"But I have nothing to hide! I don't want to buy illegal stuff!"

Not right now, maybe. But who decides what's illegal and what's not?

A cashless society is one more step towards turn-key fascism, which is why it has to be opposed.

Also worth noting is that the chairman of the central bank of Sweden basically told the banks to stop whining and continue handling cash.

You can have valid reasons to want to hide legal purchases. Alcohol is a legal drug, but how will you feel when your credit card company sells your purchase history to some analytics firm that deems you high risk for health issues, sells that data to your insurer, and your rates go up?

When I go to a bar or a McDonalds I pay cash for this reason.

It's kinda weird that we somehow have to argue for privacy and make up reasons for our purchase history to be private.

No. The default is that what I spend my money on is no one else's god damn business. It doesn't matter if I spend it on puppies and charity and unicorn dolls, or if I spend it on dildos and drugs and hookers.

And it's incredibly important for society to progress, that everyone can choose to spend their money on things that are illegal, things that are unethical, things that are on the edges, things that are subversive, because economic activity is the best indicator we have of what society values.

> how will you feel when your credit card company sells your purchase history to some analytics firm that deems you high risk for health issues, sells that data to your insurer, and your rates go up?

I feel confused that you have this very accurate description of a problem ("companies sell your personal data") and your solution is "we must hide from the companies" instead of "we must enact laws to restrict dealing in personal data".

Do you have any data to support your assertion that policy based measures (versus technical measures) are solution?

Facebook used contracts instead of technical controls to protect data, and we've seen how well that worked :)

I'll admit many on HN are obsessed with overly technical solutions, but "using cash" seems much simpler than "establish a complex regulatory regime".

The GDPR seems to have many companies changing their policies and behaviour, and it's not even active yet. So there's that. I'm sure they'll be plenty more data to be gathered on the consequences of those rules the next few years.

Technical measures can also be effective, but they usually suffer from the problem that each individual must know about the threat, must know about the technical solution, and must use that solution, which usually requires some effort. I see very few people arguing that health inspectors ("policy") should be abolished and every individual should be responsible for not eating at unhygienic restaurants, even though there are technical solutions one could use that would allow someone to mitigate risks in such a scenario.

Until/unless we do the latter, it's entirely reasonable to do the former, which an individual can implement on their own immediately.

Cash and credit cards are not the only options, anonymous and “offline” payment is also possible. Japan does is for two decades now, any other country could have done the same when introducing crypted transportation cards.

Clinging to an old and limited system because more technically advanced options seem hard and chalenging is a luddite attitude, whatever way you turn it. The way forward is not to go back to cash, but to find or build a better alternative.

Cashless transactions require a third party to give permission for the transaction, typically in real-time.

It's completely normal to be "basically okay" with that... I use cards/apps to pay on a regular basis. However, it's a long haul between "okay with cashless transactions being a popular payment method", and "eliminating cash."

We really have seen many successful, large scale attacks on digital infrastructure. The 1980s superhacker never took control of traffic lights and caused nationwide havoc.

All the security people I know think that it is possible though, and likely to happen sometime. I feel like the longer it takes, the worse. We need something to shake us out of complacency.

  Cashless transactions require a third party
Cryptocurrency.. (miners are decentralized and don't require you to trust them)

The network is still the third party.

With cash, or bottle caps, or any physical token, all you need are two people that agree it has value. Possession is the ledger.

The network can still run between those two people alone (if consolidation is solved).

Nature has an elegant solution to the double-spending problem for physical commodities.

If only there was a way to timestamp digital transactions without a write-only ledger...

Yes... I wonder how Nature implemented that...

By dropping transmutative alchemy from the sprint, allowing the implementation of a capability system on top of a now unforgeable subset of existing resources...

Sounds like the whitepaper for this week's hottest ICO!

Thank you so much. I'm on the verge of framing this and putting it on the wall. Cubicle wall, but still.

  all you need are two people that agree it has value
Wrong. All currencies need a network (physical or otherwise) or else it's just bartering between two objects.

The entire idea of currency requires a network of people who project a common value in the implemented token/object/hash.

Transactions still have to be approved by the network. ATM it's pretty slow. And many coins have one pool with majority of the hash rate --> not so decentralized

«ATM it's pretty slow»

For most cases you don't have to wait for a confirmation. Accepting a typical non-RBF 0-conf transaction is safer than accepting a credit card payment, because it is trivial to reverse a CC charge, but difficult to suppress a 0-conf transaction sitting in the mempool of thousands of Bitcoin nodes.

«many coins have one pool with majority»

It is not the case for most popular coins: BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC...

That's because rejecting RBF transactions without making it part of consensus is not incentive compatible

you still need permission to do it, even if you don't need to trust the permission granter.

I live in Sweden. No one I know uses cash. I haven't had the need for nor used cash for years. Even if headlines often are overblown, this feels particularly misleading, as it implies that there would be some bigger trend.

Considering that many people only read headlines, I'd support a movement for becoming more accurate even with headlines.

"In Sweden, some worry about the cashless society" would be way more apt.

The second sentence corrects the sensational headline: "the small but growing number of Swedes anxious about their country’s rush to embrace a cash-free society."

It must be very small. The only person I've ever heard complain about it is... myself. Not for the reasons this article gives, though. I'm more upset about Visa and Mastercard skimming 1% of profit off of the entire country's retail commerce. Maybe if they weren't simultaneously terrible, but they also have unimaginably bad fraud detection, and push their own fraud problems onto local businesses.

I see your point, but I have a slight correction: The EU has regulated the interchange fee, which is since then capped at "0.2% of the transaction value for Visa and Mastercard consumer debit cards" and "0.3% of the transaction value for Visa and Mastercard consumer credit cards." (https://www.adyen.com/blog/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-eu...)

However, I am not a payment expert, so there might be an additional fee imposed by the credit card networks which I am not aware of?

This percentage does seem a bit more reasonable for the services offered by Visa and Mastercard, in my eyes.

Well, true, that's somewhat better. But it's the principle of a privately-owned monopoly or oligopoly skimming profits off of a nation's economy that bothers me, not the absolute amount.

As the other response to my comment said, cash itself has an overhead cost, too. But that cost is paid to our government at break-even cost, instead of to a private company for profit.

If Visa and Mastercard had plenty of competition, it wouldn't be so bad. Swish is nice to have, despite its problems. Maybe we'll get there.

Yeah I tried to find the rates that Swish charges to businesses but didn't find them (although didn't look to thoroughly either). But can it really be even below the 0,2% of cap for debit cards?

Swish is 1 to 2 SEK (2 being the list price that can be negotiated) per transaction. Then swish has a daily cap of payments you as user can do of 150k SEK (system limit, not a soft cap that the user can remove).

That is an extremely low limit for any noteworthy business, equating to $500k USD a month total. Most small grocers here in Seattle do more than that in credit/debit monthly.

The Swish limit is for outbound payments, not total transactions.

So a grocer that accepts Swish payments will in no way be hindered by this limit, unless they for some ungodly reason are also swishing money back to customers.

The rates for Danish MobilePay were easy to find [1], and are flat, under 30-75 ears [2] depending on volume. I'd guess that's around 0.5-1%, but I don't have much idea.

[1] https://mobilepay.dk/da-dk/erhverv/Pages/mobilepay-myshop.as...

[2] Well, I say "crowns" in English

The pricing of the most common merchant service provider (Nets) in Finland is 0.31% for EU VISA/MC debit cards (max 0.75 EUR per transaction) and 0.90% for EU consumer VISA/MC credit cards. For reference, approx. 80% of card transactions are debit here.

Magstripe transactions, non-EU cards, and non-consumer credit cards have higher rates.

Could be similar in Sweden.

I think it is a interesting question. Before using a payment gateway, what is the cost of using cash? It would be covered by tax. If the whole society is abandoning cash, it is effectively meant raising sales tax by X%, where X is transaction cost of each payment.

A cashless country should just use the tax money on cash printing factories to cover the cost of transaction.

Norway sidestepped this with nationwide BankAxept piggybacking on Visa, wonder why Sweden didn't.

You're missing the point though. We know Sweden is cashless, I live there too and the article isn't about Sweden becoming cashless.

It's about an opposing opinion to the cashless trend that we're already used to.

You might not know anyone who shares the opinion but I do, several of them.

Personally I share the opinion on an ideological level but practically I'm just too lazy to make a real change in my life.

I have friends who always swing by the ATM before we go out, while I pay for everything on my cards.

But the real issue here is that if we rely 100% on an electronic method of payment we'll be more crippled than necessary if some calamity would befall our society.

No I'm not missing the point. I am solely criticizing the absolute lack of accuracy in the headline, as it is misleading beyond the normal level of how headlines are usually misleading.

I have not made any comment about opinions about cash, whether I know someone who is has concerns about the lack of cash, or about my own standpoint.

In general terms, I feel like you about the topic: "Personally I share the opinion on an ideological level but practically I'm just too lazy to make a real change in my life."

That, however, can hardly be called "turning against cashlessness" :)

> Personally I share the opinion on an ideological level but practically I'm just too lazy to make a real change in my life.

I 100% share this sentiment. The only times I use cash is when I travel to the US.

I just moved from Sweden. I used cash frequently, but not in large quantities. Cashlessness is helpful in some cases, but a burden in others.

It is true you can get by without cash in Sweden but you cannot get by without a card, reasonably. But many of the corner markets have minimum payments by card, and so often having smallish money in cash is a very good thing. Additionally the farmer markets in the town squares are still mostly cash-based.

So I never found cashlessness to work entirely while I was there, whether I was in Malmo, Helsingborg, or Landskrona. Maybe in Stockholm it is different, and maybe it is different if you rarely buy at the farmer markets....

Germany, where I now live is the opposite. You can get by without a card, but you cannot get by without cash....

Hehe I did the opposite, moved from Cash-obsessed Germany to cashfree Sweden. Whenever I travel back to Germany (or other countries), I take a special, big wallet with me, knowing that I have to put some bills inside.

Interesting how much money, despite our view of it as numbers, is deeply tied to culture.

Perhaps you missed this part: "But an opinion poll this month revealed unease among Swedes, with almost seven out of 10 saying they wanted to keep the option to use cash, while just 25% wanted a completely cashless society."

You might be cashless within your little tech circle, but it appears there are many more people who are uneasy with the idea.

Hey, if I would have been part of that survey, I also would have said "i want to keep the option to use cash".

It's totally possible to embrace the cashless lifestyle while being uneasy with it at the same time. I argue this actually is the norm. Like it is with a lot of stuff we do on the web as well. Who isn't uneasy with all the social media platforms but still uses some of them.

It's the new normal. Being uneasy with things and doing them.

Totally agree with this. Most people just dont carry cash. The big trend is shops not accepting cash. My mother-in-law tried to pay for a round at a bar for me today - "sorry, no cash" (O'Leary's Kista).

The trend is most definitely towards cashless, not away from it.

People must still use cash to buy drugs, sex, and that sort of thing no?

Swede here. My guess is that it's mostly cash but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the transactions goes through the very popular big banks-backed mobilenumber-addressed instantaneous app-based no-fee bank account-to-bank account transaction system Swish.

I don't know about Sweden, but in Copenhagen the only times I've seen a queue at a cash machine is the one nearest Christiania, i.e. where cannabis (and more) is sold.

I'd be very surprised if a drug dealer accepted Swish/Mobilepay.

Not necessarily. Not even in Nevada.

If you go to a legal brothel in Nevada, it doesn't show up on your credit card with the brothel's name. It shows up as some bland innocuous looking generic company name like "ARB, Inc."

That might help hide from a prying spouse, but I assume the data brokers know what "ARB, Inc." means...

These will be provided by a municipal body in cities from now on, parochial for rural areas.

Well, we do have state grown and sold Marijuana in Uruguay, who knows what a more forward country might do :)

Note that apart from privacy issues and technical problems (Puerto Rico blackout, anybody?) numerous studies indicate that people spend less money when using cash instead of credit cards. That's one reason for the big push by the banks, shops, restaurants, and media to "go cashless".

>Note that apart from privacy issues and technical problems (Puerto Rico blackout, anybody?) numerous studies indicate that people spend less money when using cash instead of credit cards.

This is one of the reasons why casinos use chips rather than actual currency.

> This is one of the reasons why casinos use chips rather than actual currency.

It's one of the reasons they use digital vouchers (scannable paper or loaded onto cards) instead of either, increasingly.

>It's one of the reasons they use digital vouchers (scannable paper or loaded onto cards) instead of either, increasingly.

Only at slot machines. Table games are all chips.

When playing roulette, sometimes I'll see some drunk person throw a bunch of cash on the table and yell something like "Put it all on black!" It gets thrown right back at him until he gets chips from the cashier or has his money changed at the table at the appropriate time and in the customary fashion.

I'd argue that this is good for the economy. Economies are strong when money is changing hands a lot. If people hoard all their pennies, then money isn't changing hands, business isn't growing, and the economy stagnates.

Pointlessly spending more money than necessary probably isn't good for your health as an individual though, and arguably the push to get more people to spend more money more often isn't good for a society. It might be good for their economy, but economy ≠ society.

If you really just want to inflate the amount of money being spent, there's always room for more rent-seekers and debt collectors.

Also, it may be "good for the economy" if "good" is "more money being spent". But that's too valueless for my taste. A stupid utility function. If you by "economy" mean as a metric for other utility in the society, then, spending money on stupid stuff, is just akin to digging holes and then filling them again.

Only that, the holes are very elaborate. (Like perfumes or stupid shit like a metric crap ton of TVs nobody uses anyway because we are busy staring at a much smaller screen in our palm.)

spending money on stupid stuff

The problem here, as with any economic ideas, is properly defining "stupid stuff". Value has to be defined on an individual basis. If someone gets more entertainment from digging holes and filling them with dirt than using their phone, then hole digging doesn't seem like such pointless endeavor. The hole digger will probably end up in better health than the phone user, too, so it's not like there endeavor is altogether pointless.

Taking options away (like cash) is a bad idea if you're optimizing society around individual autonomy. We should want as many options as possible.

I agree, though I think we have plenty of real problems left to solve still. We are not quite at Star Trek level economy, where hole digging might make even more sense.

On the other hand, back to talking about real people, the less you feel like you have a sufficient buffer to last until your next paycheck, the more stressed you are. If we psychologically manipulate people into spending more than they’re naturally comfortable with, we’re creating a society that’s worse off for the people in it.

> If we psychologically manipulate people into spending more than they’re naturally comfortable with, we’re creating a society that’s worse off for the people in it.

If the average person didn't spend too much money on things they don't need, we'd have very high unemployment. The people with jobs might feel better and less stressed but a huge number of people would be extremely stressed and despondent.

If psychological manipulation to the point of causing harm to people is necessary to make our system work, maybe it's a system that doesn't work. Anyway - advertising isn't along the same lines as literally making it more difficult for people to make the connection between spending money and, well, spending money.

I see your point, but I don't think we should be aiming at a solution of continuing to promote overconsumption. I think we should aim for a world where people are less manipulated into overconsumption, but everyone still has the means for a comfortable and happy life.

It may sound obvious when I put it that way, but it seems to me that many times the political or economic proposals I hear fundamentally disagree with this goal.

Wrong. Even people like Keynes didnt believe that.

Resources that are wasted on stuff that we don't need is directly taken from other better places that those resources could have been spent on.

By not spending now, we are instead able to spend those resources on the future.

> Resources that are wasted on stuff that we don't need is directly taken from other better places that those resources could have been spent on.

The vast majority of people have skills and are employed in areas other than housing, food, transportation, healthcare, clothing, and education. What would they all do in a world where nobody bought massages or luxury vehicles or hair dye or designer clothes or airplanes or tasting menus?

Would you have all the artists and marketers retrain as farmers and green energy researchers? Would people really be happier in this hypothetical ultra-efficient future of such limited career choices?

I disagree. There's certainly short term benefit to this Keynesian view, but long term it leads to wild volatility, partly because people are only one pay check away from ruin. When only the wealthy have a store of money to draw on in harder times (job or income source loss, broken appliances/vehicles/etc), it further harms the poor. It's a regressive policy because it disproportionately harms the poor. It forces people into leveraging credit each time a moderate to large expense comes up. That's not a fun way to live.

It isn't even the Keynsian model!

People misinterprete it to this basterdized version a lot though.

The real Keynsian model is that we should spend more in bad times and LESS in good times to even out business cycles.

People always forget that second part...

It was NEVER about spending for the sake of spending or wasting money on things that we don't need to help the "economy".

People misinterpret it to the point where they believe the economy is some infinite motion machine, where you ad more motion and even more motion comes out.

I agree with everything you said. Have you considered that the Keynesian model might be a failure since it does not account for human nature? I don't believe a government will ever reliably cut spending in good times and spend more in bad times. I am starting to sound like socialists saying "it's never been properly implemented!" Well, maybe the core idea works on paper but ignores human nature, maybe it simply can't be implemented properly.

Interesting, I'll definitely look into this further. If you have any links I'd appreciate it, but no worries if you don't have them handy (I can google).

My recommendation is to read the literature from Keynes himself.

It was always about business cycles, IE SAVE money in good times, so it can be spent in bad times.

>I'd argue that this is good for the economy. Economies are strong when money is changing hands a lot.

That's an axiom, not a fact.

Or rather, it only becomes a fact when people want X and Y and Z out of the economy (e.g. constant growth) over other values (e.g. avoiding environmental externalities, non-shopping-related quality of life, stability, equality).

And I'd argue there that, to some degree, it's a matter of breadth of spending and not just depth. Money may or may not trickle down, but it certainly gushes upward. So as an obvious example a thousand people selling something for $10 a piece instead of 1 person selling something for $10,000 is obviously much more desirable. I'd speculate that tactics like this won't really increase the breadth of spend, but only the depth - so you simply accelerate the upward flow of income.

That could hypothetically be a good thing, invoking my inner Milton Friedman, if those on top then use that groundswell of 'free' money to then reinvest in their business and everybody moves upward. However in this case, as opposed to general supply side economics at large, you need to show that that subsequent trickle down is more beneficial than what was removed from those at the bottom. I think that's going to be improbable, especially as the merit of supply side economics itself becomes ever more debatable.

This is confusing. I thought it was just a couple of friends and I that thought that cashless is a horrible idea. Seems like we at least have older people on our side.

> Yet Sweden is divided into two camps: the first says "we love the new technology", while the other just can’t be bothered, Skarec says.

Also, it is scary that people think like this. Everyone is in such a rush to digitize everything and implement new tech that we don't think about the consequences of our actions. E.g the scandal from last year where Transportstyrelsen (Swedish Transport Agency) outsourced work to a company in the Czech Republic and gave people without security clearance access to the database. That included access to details concerning military vehicles and two different police registers.

This is an uncanny coincidence. Just today I (being a Swede in the largest city) wanted to deposit some old bills, and found out my primary bank went completely cashless years ago, and my secondary bank never dealt in cash to begin with.

This sounded so weird to me so I had to google it while on the phone with the support rep. Turns out it's a big shift where at some point around ten years ago, the government released control and now almost every big private actor is moving away from cash, despite the fact that it goes against the recommendation of nearly every expert in the field.

It worries me hugely, and I am considering switching banks to the only big bank that is actively in favour of dealing in cash: Handelsbanken. I know this will come at some cost to me, but if the alternative is sticking with a bank that does not even offer one of the core services of banking---even society---that will have to be worth it.

Is a bank that has no physical cash trustworthy? Who holds their cash, and what other core functions have they outsourced or stopped offering?

From what I've seen here in London (UK), mostly tourists use cash. Everybody else uses contactless payments. You can pay with contactless cards or apple/android pay on the public transport or on your corner grocery store.

And with the new fin-tech banks like Monzo, Starling or Revolut the banking apps are light years ahead of traditional banks.

This is one of those things people who pay cashless think (including me, although Im not in the UK) because no one pays attention to how other people pay for things.

As of July 2017, 42.3% of transactions used cash in the UK: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jul/12/cash-contactle...

The US has a similarly high percentage also.

I think it depends where you are. In London cashless is much easier than in the country where cash & minimum spend on card is much more common

I was still caught out at new year, when a Chinese takeaway near Barbican wanted cash for a £4.50 sale.

I'm used to paying for that type of transaction with a card in Denmark.

(I paid partly in Danish coins, since I didn't have enough sterling and the cashier liked the resemblance to old Chinese coins with a hole in the middle.)

I also almost always use contactless payments here. But there is one big exception. When paying in a small business such as on off license or small cafe/restaurant I will go out of my way to use cash because I want the business to keep the full margin instead of paying a visa fee.

But what if it costs the business more than the card margin to handle the cash? Eg they need a physical cash register, have to take the cash to the bank or have someone pick it up, pay for insurance for it, count it, keep change etc

I was quite an early user of Revolut and I do feel like they're gradually ruining their service at the moment. I would actually say that my bank (NatWest) has a better mobile experience than them right now. Revolut seem to spend all their time coming up with new marketing schemes to shill cheap partnership products, like phone insurance or health insurance, rather than improving their core product. Their interface seems to hide a lot of the useful features, and the language is often confusing or just wrong ("Device Insurance" is actually "Phone Insurance", as you can't insure anything without an IMEI number).

I've moved most of my travel purchasing over to TransferWise's new card. It's lacking a few features but it feels less...dodgy, frankly.

That's exactly why I moved to N26 as well. I referred a bunch of people to Revolut early on as well, but their service feels pretty scammy now.

Oh, yeah, the "bank" that is so hip they don't even need the terrible security other incompetent banks have to offer? That sounds like a very good idea!


I requested a contactless card in the US, it took some pleading, but it was the greatest decision.

About half the places I shop support Apple and Google pay, and those systems always seem to take the card, but it's far faster than my phone or watch.

Way faster than chip, of course.

No idea why it didn't take off here, contactless cards have been the best experience for me by a mile.

Maybe people have had better luck with phone payments, but the negotiations with those seem glacial to me now.

Contactless cards aren’t really any faster than Apple Pay secured by your fingerprint, and in fact are the same speed if you prepare your iPhone - supposing your phone is at least as accessible as your contactless card. I’ve never used the Apple Watch for this.

My personal issue is that I cant and won't accept that my wallet suddenly needs battery to work in a device that barely holds 2 days.

In fact I still don't understand how people think this is a good idea to begin with.

As main method that is. I also use BitPay on my phone every once in a while

> Contactless cards aren’t really any faster than Apple Pay

I don't have to unlock my card. Also, the card is much lighter and smaller, and I don't worry about dropping and breaking it, so the cognitive load is lighter.

I don't carry a wallet, though, just a card to pay for things, keys, and a license. I also don't carry my phone around unlocked, so those things might make a difference.

If you used the phone as the only thing in your pocket, because it had your DL (if you even drive) and unlocked your doors at home with a smart phone app, then I could definitely see the minimalist appeal. I really like having almost nothing in my pockets, and a phone could do that.

The expected time it takes to pay with a phone is increased by taking into account all the times my fingerprint isn't read successfully on the first (or any) attempt.

Widespread acceptance and use of contactless cards are much, much better than any solution tied to a phone (let alone a luxury phone brand) because they're accessible to anyone with a bank account.

Because of currency exchange fees that would be incurred by using cards or other options (although Sweden has the same problem.) Within the eurozone I don't even bother taking any extra cash with me.

In the US there are several cards marketed to travelers, so zero fees for intl transactions and competitive exchange rates are becoming common.

Even so, most tourists may not know their card's terms, and probably couldn't immediately tell you if the cash advance fee would be preferable to the international transaction fee, and so choose poorly.

Yeah. I have a couple cards that don't have [foreign transaction] fees but they're both cards I pay for aimed at frequent travelers. I think I pay a fee with any of my free cards. As you say, I expect a lot of casual tourists just feel more comfortable paying cash--even if that does get into the whole "what the heck is this coin anyway?"

[UGGH. Fixed a bunch of confusing typos.]

The exoticism of a foreign currency also probably has something to do with it.

Haven't found a fee free travel card for canadians... in fact our major bank (TD) just increased FX fees from 2.5% - > 3.5% on foreign transactions, on top of a super unfavourable exchange rate. I usually bring stacks of cash on my trips.

Which means the amount of control over our movements and transactions is also multiplied nth-fold. This is more of my concern than any mishandling of the payment process, considering that is all information an overreaching State actor can always use to spy on us.

That's because as a tourist, especially an international tourist, you're not hooked up into the local network that people use.

I'm reminded of the last night I spent on a trip to Budapest. First I went to a food truck and they would only take cash, and I was out of forints. Then I went to a bar and they would only let me pay with some app that apparently everyone in Hungary has, but I didn't, and I also didn't have a local data plan so I couldn't get it. I said to my wife that I just wanted to pay with present money (credit card), as opposed to past money (cash) or future money (app).

Anyone in the UK who is not already using Monzo should definitely check it out.

How do they compare to Revolut/Starling? I think a friend of mine uses it but I never see advertisements so I only really heard of it recently :)

But there is a jump from there to saying "cash should be eliminated". It's like saying that, because Amazon is light-years ahead of traditional retail, all traditional shops should be made illegal.

But this is a movement being driven by consumers themselves. In an age where the vast majority of customers pay by card, I can't blame business owners for deciding cash isn't worth it anymore.

I'm all for the idea of cash being accepted and remaining. But as a swede I'm also completely over cash. I haven't even seen the latest incarnation of our bills. I haven't touched cash even for buying a flea market hockey stick or a hotdog in a stand, for years. And it's damn comfortable (The mobile payments is used a LOT, so is at least as big as cards for small transactions and individual-to-individual transactions).

But the questoin is: if we just want cash to "be around" because in times of crisis it would be handy - who will pay for maintaining it? If you mandate it by law, chances are that businesses will just have some appearance of cash handling, but no idea how to do it in an actual crisis. Likewise, people who only need to use cash once in a crisis, aren't going to have cash on them, if there is a crisis

One of the reasons I don't have cash is because we are also hellbent on expiring our banknotes - the validity period of banknotes here is probably around 20 years on average. So unlike the US where you might be allowed to pay with a 50 year old green one, in Sweden you can't put a few thousand Kronor in a box in the basement for a crisis. It won't be accepted if that crisis is too far away - and I fear forgetting where I put the money and realize it's no longer valid. (Note that money can always be exchanged at the central bank for modern notes after they are expired - they aren't turned worthless - but that is probably not an option in times of crisis).

So while I agree with the idea of cash being a vital infrastructure in society - how to you encourage it enough to actually be a working system when it's needed, if it's not always needed? There is no way you'll convince the swedes to use a more cumbersome payment system than the least cumbersome one, because "it's good to support it". Mandating that everyone accept cash also seems like pretty bad idea (It will cost consumers a LOT).

I don't know about Sweden or EU but in The Netherlands cash is legal tender. If a shop does not clearly communicate cash isn't accepted, you can consider your transaction finalized. Its the problem of the business; not the customer.

It should be noted that in the UK, legal tender has a very narrow definition - it applies only to paying a debt at a court. It doesn't apply to your local shops. This is a common misconception.

But it's de facto the same in most shops. If you pick up some goods and walk out of the shop leaving some cash on the counter... what recourse do they have?

OK, the shop might not be happy about it, but you owe them the value of goods, and you've paid them in legal tender to the correct amount.

If the shop allows you to run up a tab, you can pay it off with legal tender. If the shop does not extend credit to you, you may not take the goods unless you have something the owner is willing to accept in trade. If the owner demands only gold or silver, you cannot legally pay with a bank note.

If you leave bank notes of sufficient value and run out, they are very unlikely to attempt to prosecute you, but they could, both for the theft and the nuisance of leaving your property lying around in their store. And the case would probably be resolved on appeal somewhere, with one judge arguing that the state has an inherent interest in having its primary currency universally accepted by all businesses in its jurisdiction, and another arguing that the state is overreaching when it tells shopkeepers what they must accept as payment.

In England that's theft. This is clear and unambiguous.

See for example thean who took cash from his company safe, and replaced the same value a week later, but who was convicted of theft because the notes were different. See R v Velyumi here: https://www.lawteacher.net/cases/theft-cases.php

Replacing it a week later is quite different to leaving the cash before you've left the shop.

Taking cash from a safe is also quite different to taking goods that are explicitly for sale. Especially if you gave them the right amount of money.

Dishonestly would be a key factor there. If you believe you have the legal right to do that, or you believe that the owner of the goods would have consented, then you have not acted dishonestly, and there is no theft. If you do so to as you believe that the owner would not accept cash, you have acted dishonestly and thus there is a theft.[1]

Note that Velumyl was an appeal on the grounds that the defendant did not intend to permanently deprive, thus the money being different was relevant as he permanently deprived the owner of that specific property. Had the defendant contented there was no dishonestly -- that he intended to return equivalent funds and believed that the company would consent -- the decision may well have been different.

[1] Theft Act 1968 s.2(1) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/60/section/2

It would apply in a restaurant. I've eaten the food and want to settle up, here's the cash. They have to accept it.

Not true. Say for example you went to a restaurant, a nice fancy one with a few friends, and ran up a £1000 bill. Now £1 coins are legal tender for any amount, which simply means that if you are trying to pay off a £1000 debt at a court of law, you could dump a pile of 1000 £1 coins on their desk, just to be awkward. However, the restaurant is not bound by legal tender rules, and is quite within its rights to ask you to pay using a more reasonable method, like say £20 or £50 notes, or a bank card.

And no notes are legal tender in Scotland.

There are many businesses in the Netherlands that don't take cash anymore.

Heck, even my municipality doesn't take cash anymore (if you need to do things like renewing your passport).

I think something was lost in translation there... cash is legal tender everywhere; that just means it's not worthless paper.

Besides, this seems a bit of an "originalist" view of commercial transactions. I bet if I tried to pull that off, the police would take a dim view. But who knows, the Netherlands are a strange place.

Legal tender doesn't mean "not just worthless paper".

Legal tender is "Legally valid currency that may be offered in payment of a debt and that a creditor must accept." ( https://www.wordnik.com/words/legal%20tender )

There's not a debtor/creditor relationship in a private retail transaction, at least in the USA. It is an exchange of value, not an extension of credit.

A retail store is perfectly permitted to have a "no cash accepted" policy. Even the public transit here generally has a "no cash" policy for fares.

Not in Germany, for example. We still have laws that cash has to be accepted for (almost) any trade.

That's nice. In Sweden various retailers and others that sell services claim that cash is a nuisance, a cost or a danger.

For example, bus companies have had "cash strikes" after robberies, claiming cash is a danger against their working environment, and as a result nowadays most buses are cashless.

Retail shops and banks alike publicize and complain about the cost of handling cash transports securely.

We can guess these are probably complaints towards an end: yes, they want to save money. There is no vision or will to keep accepting cash.

Sadly, people aren’t replacing cash with EC (a very cheap interbanking card standard that’s local to Germany) but with VISA/MasterCard, foreign companies that demand foreign laws be followed in Germany, holding an oligopoly, and having massively inflated fees.

I’d be the first proponent of a cashless society if we’d ban VISA and MasterCard from operating here.

Hopefully EC will survive. I used it while living in Germany and I understood the point, there were some that didn't accept anything else, obviously, because of the fees with other payment cards.

German banks were also very accessible for foreigners.

It should be noted that it can be contractually waived in most cases, e.g. by a poster saying "no cash accepted" in a store. And it's not like this law is actually enforced as anyone who has ever tried paying with cash at Berlin's city administration can attest to. If not even they obverse they law I wouldn't put much value into it.

> It should be noted that it can be contractually waived in most cases, e.g. by a poster saying "no cash accepted" in a store.

Exactly how it works in The Netherlands as well.

Source: I worked in a coffeeshop, and got fed up with all the customers who wanted to pay by card which we did not accept (at that time) so consulted a lawyer on how to deal with this. It has to be communicated clearly, though I don't remember if it was at entrance or at the counter (IIRC the latter).

There is a debtor/creditor relationship after you've walked out of the shop with the goods without paying. But if you left some money, you paid, so the debt is settled.

I don't know if this argument would hold up in court, as it can easily be gamed. But what are they going to have you do? Go and get the cash back and then pay it to the shopkeeper in court?

EDIT: On coming back to this, I agree with everything you said. I thought you had replied to my other comment in this thread where I proposed a way to pay with cash even where cash "isn't accepted", by just walking out of the shop "without paying", but leaving the correct amount of cash on the counter.

The trouble with cashless is when someone in power decides they don't like you, they can just turn it off for you.

I've had accounts and credit cards frozen before. It's pretty alarming when you're traveling, for example. With cashless, what are you going to do?

It's like getting stuck on the "no-fly" list, but infinitely worse.

(I live in the USA.)

I have two credit cards (and one debit card, but I only use it as an ATM card to get cash, since you're still out the money until a problem is resolved). I mostly only use credit cards for online purchasing and gasoline -- because to pay cash there is inconvenient. And yet, I see to experience some kind of credit card fraud about once every couple years -- this is primarily why I have two credit cards, there's always a backup.

And besides that inconvenience -- changing all kinds of saved payment info when a card is replaced, given the extent to which (at least in this country) banks are free to share incredible amounts of information, you don't have to have "something to hide" to be interested in not sharing your entire purchasing history with these entities.

As an American, now living in Europe I cannot understand the pushback against cashless systems. In Germany almost every cafe, restaurant, or bar requires you pay with cash. I understand there is a slight charge to the vendor when charging to a credit or bank card, but the amount of time and energy saved by having "exact change" every transaction should increase productivity enough to cover any costs.

Personally it's because I think a cashless state is "evil" in that now all spending is gatekept by someone - usually a government or large business. Plus tracking every dollar you spend is also problematic for me as well.

So I spend cash whenever possible simply to "vote" that I am willing to deal with a little more hassle in the name of freedom. I also don't like that some private party has effectively inserted themselves into the economy skimming 1.5% or whatever off the top of practically all consumer spending. It's only a cost savings if you literally do away with cash - and that's a dystopia I don't want to live in.

What you just described can be applied to banks just like payment transaction companies. They both exist to make our lives easier and prevent us from having to hoard cash under our mattresses. They also provide a safe means of doing business.

We live in a digital age and it’s only going to evolve faster. Money is nothing more than numbers in a system.

>Money is nothing more than numbers in a system.

Heh, and someone would say that Facebook posts don't say much about you, but I bet really quickly how and where you spend money give a good profile of who you are.

It's a money loser to not accept credit cards, too. I don't like carrying cash. I'm likely to skip a cash only restaurant even if I want to eat there because I want to charge purchase & I don't have cash.

As soon as you are offering some form of card payment somebody can calculate what % is usually in that kind of business transacted via credit cards, therefore knows how realistic the reported revenue is.

Smaller resturants prefer cash, because it allows them to evade taxes by underquoting their profits. The same reason that builders quote less for "cash only" prices

This is one of the main reasons that governments are pushing for cashless systems, because there is less evetax evasion and increased revenue

It is incredibly rare that a builder would accept physical cash, they will be paid by check or bank transfer. Builders quote less because there is less risk of finance delays, and a greater chance of completing the project for cash buyers than those that depend on a draw and continued credit from a bank.

Here in Australia there are plenty of builders that will openly offer you quotes and then take off the 10% GST/sales tax if you pay in all cash

The builders benefit because they then wont pay any income tax on the job

Along those same lines if I'm going out to eat somewhere that accepts credit cards I will almost always pay the bill with the card and tip the server in cash. They can just pocket the cash and as far as the restaurant knows they didn't receive a tip (that would otherwise be taxed).

If you don't add a tip to the credit receipt, the IRS will estimate a tip value for tax purposes. I don't know the exact amount, but I think it's around 10%. If you are intent upon helping service staff evade taxes, the optimal strategy would therefore be to put 10% on the receipt and drop the remainder on the table in cash.

This also means that if you stiff your server and leave no tip, they are still getting taxed as though you left 10%. If you really want to be a jerk, be slightly less of a jerk by leaving a $0.01 tip on the receipt. This will also allow them to post it to outrage-fueled social media for a tiny bit of temporary fame.

Most people aren't that invested into stigginit to da Man, or at least not just via their restaurant tips. You'd be better off paying cash for everything, no-receipt requested, and not involving the electronic point-of-sale till at all.

Why do you think restaurant servers shouldn't pay taxes? Are there any other occupations for which you believe should be exempt from taxes?

I cannot understand the pushback against cashless systems

I am deeply comfortable with the idea that I have the option to keep my spending habits private, and not subject to data mining. I also like the idea of not being tracked all the time, and I like the idea of general anonymity. I don't like the idea that my options are being removed form me, with no discernible benefit to me. You like paying by card? Excellent, go right ahead. I like to have the option, sometimes cash, sometimes electronic.

There's a very detailed Bundesbank report on popularity of means of payment in Germany that was recently updated: https://www.bundesbank.de/Redaktion/EN/Topics/2018/2018_02_1... -- the full report (in German only, sorry) is at https://www.bundesbank.de/Redaktion/DE/Downloads/Veroeffentl...

> The Riksbank governor, Stefan Ingves, called for new legislation to secure public control over the payments system, arguing that being able to make and receive payments is a “collective good” like defence, the courts, or public statistics.

> “Most citizens would feel uncomfortable to surrender these social functions to private companies,” he said.

> “It should be obvious that Sweden’s preparedness would be weakened if, in a serious crisis or war, we had not decided in advance how households and companies would pay for fuel, supplies and other necessities.”

The first two points involve the way the citizens "feel" and not is actually most productive.

As for the preparedness of a nation to handle a cashless economy during a time of war, wouldn't a electronic ledger be must safer and reliable than if the government say just started printing more money leading to inflation problems. This has happens numerous times throughout times of history during war and could be avoided with a cashless economy.

> wouldn't a electronic ledger be must safer and reliable than if the government say just started printing more money leading to inflation problems

No. Aside from the added vulnerability of the infrastructure needed to maintain and interact with an electronic ledger, such a system either still allows a government to issue new tokens (and thus has no effect on the issue you raise) or requires blunter, higher overhead means at serving the same national functions that wartime money printing serves, which means either (or both) more internal disruption or greater probability of losing the war.

More reliable? We are not living in a world where every roof is covered with solar panels. Our network is not a wireless mesh.

During a war power plants will get bombed. Network and power cables will get bombed. Roads, railroads and bridges will get bombed, so power plants wouldn't even get fuel.

Heck, if they wanted to be really surgical, they could just bomb the power lines entering the power plants. The effect would be total shock and aw but much easier to reconnect afterwards when they have the new puppet regime in place.

Inflation has nothing to do with whether the currency is electronic. Maybe you're confusing it with cryptocurrencies? That's not what cashless means in this context - most Swedes are not paying with Bitcoin, but with electronic krona.

Germans are very paranoid about giving their details to anyone: government, banks, corporations, other people. Paying with cash is viewed as a safer way to pay without any number of Big Brothers watching over your shoulder.

(The reason for paranoia is the history of https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi)

There is also another german word in the realm of centralization - Gleichschaltung. It is nowadays exclusively used to describe the centralization of government functions and bodies during the beginning of the 3rd Reich. Big central government offices, their tracking capabilities and emerging network effects were one of the required precursors for what came later.

It is why many parts of the modern/post-war German bureaucracy were intentionally set up inefficient and why we still dislike any "central databases" for anything, from law enforcement to tax collection. Slow, decoupled government systems slow down unwanted usage patterns much more than valid ones, are generally harder to game (try explaining your urgent need for some data to a rural bavarian city hall employee) and easier to monitor/verify for citizens.

Maybe there are other factors than obsession with the speed and "productivity" effect of the money-transfer part of a transaction.

Your meal and beer entering your mouth probably took 100x as long as the difference between counting change and swiping a card. So why not puree them together? And damn anyone who thinks it was important to keep them separate; incomprehensible.

I think that's an unnecessarily hostile viewpoint. Basically your argument boils down to "some things take longer to do than other things, so there's no point in making things easier/faster/more efficient".

I don't think anyone would argue that since cars are bigger than cell phones, that we should make our cell phones as big as cars (it's incomprehensible to think that cars and cell phones should be different sizes). So why should we use a slower and less efficient payment method just because food takes more time to cook and prepare?

I don't think anyone would argue that since humans can only walk ~3mph, that airplanes should be limited to the same speed (it's incomprehensible to think that airplanes and humans should travel at different speeds). So why should we use a slower and less efficient payment method just because humans walk slower than an airplane flies?

Do you see what I'm getting at here? The speed at which you eat your food does not impact the speed of the payment method you prefer to use. All the payment method impacts is how much stuff you have to carry in your pockets, and how much can be stolen from you at any given moment.

> I think that's an unnecessarily hostile viewpoint. Basically your argument boils down to "some things take longer to do than other things, so there's no point in making things easier/faster/more efficient".

I think what the parent means is that there are several other reasons, and at the same time makes a case against the main argument in favor of card transactions.

Many people simply feel they don't want to give up control over their cash, over information how they spend it, and basically: how they live their lives. As history shown us, once you give up this control, it's gone forever, and here are many actors eager to take over this information, not necessarily to the benefit of the citizen.

> Basically your argument boils down to "some things take longer to do than other things, so there's no point in making things easier/faster/more efficient".

The argument is Amdahl's Law. Making something twice as fast which itself constitutes only 4% of the total latency doesn't make the whole task twice as fast, it only makes it 2% faster. Which absolutely does change how much you're willing to compromise in order to make that happen.

> I don't think anyone would argue that since humans can only walk ~3mph, that airplanes should be limited to the same speed (it's incomprehensible to think that airplanes and humans should travel at different speeds). So why should we use a slower and less efficient payment method just because humans walk slower than an airplane flies?

Because walking and flying are alternatives to each other rather than two components of the same task.

Consider why most people don't commute by air travel. Even if a plane would actually get you to work sooner, it isn't enough of an improvement to be worth the cost. You would still have to get to and from the airport, which creates a minimum latency no matter how fast the plane flies, and air travel is simply more expensive than driving.

Which is why high frequency traders pay electronically and not with cash, and why people traveling long distances fly. But people buying hamburgers may prefer to pay cash in a store they walked to because it's two blocks from where they live.

> Basically your argument boils down

It does not, in fact. My insinuation is that perhaps some people have a preference against going cashless which has nothing to do with speed.

Maybe you're not used to pay with cash but for people that are used to it, it's not slower than using plastic.

And sometimes it's even faster, when the card or the card reader don't work, the customer is old etc.

With the new addition of Pay Wave where you can simply tap a card on a sensor, I do not see how paying with cash and then waiting for the teller to sort of the bills and provide the right change can be faster.

I understand I need to become more accustomed to the culture that I immigrate too, but that does not mean that there are not more efficient solutions compared to "the way its always been".

As for the card reader not working, this is usually only a problem with older machines or places without a strong internet connection.

> I do not see how paying with cash and then waiting for the teller to sort of the bills and provide the right change can be faster.

You have to wait for the transaction to verify. That usually takes more than three seconds (at least here), which is roughly the amount of time it takes to get change.

I don't think it's a good reason to push for cashless, but three seconds on average for both buyers and sellers? Only if Swedes are much faster than citizens across the rest of Europe. Giving the money, inputting the amount into the POS so it can open the register, then choosing the bills and coins - 3s seconds is about the best case scenario, in my experience.

You have to input the amount into the POS so it can start the transaction as well. Sellers here (Greece) are so used to this (they do it thousands of times a day) that it takes them almost no time to give change back. It helps that change is always segregated into proper trays/slots.

Even with contactless, I always feel kind of bad to be paying by card at the super market because I'm slowing the queue down. If the amount goes over 20 euros or so and I have to enter my PIN, it's even slower. It's not even a contest compared to cash.

You have to input the amount into the POS so it can start the transaction as well

Where are you buying that has payment queues but doesn't scan the products? I only see people inputting the amount manually in restaurants/bars.

Where are you buying that you have to enter the amount into the POS to open the drawer but not to start the card transaction?

You can't consider the time it takes to enter the amount only in the case that suits you. If you have to enter the amount for cash, you have to enter it for the card as well.

You have to enter the amount the person is actually delivering... If the total is 18.45€, I'll probably be paying with a 20€, which the cashier has to input.

Now that I think of it, I guess not all POSs require that (the cashier does the calculation for the change in their head), but in my experience they aren't common.

Oh, what people do over here is "count up" to the amount. So if you give them 20€ for 18.45€, they go "5 cents to 18.50, 50 to 19, 1 euro and that's 20, here you go". That's a pretty fast method.

Furthermore, a good cashier will already pick 1,55€ while the customer is paying and put it back is the customer is paying with a more fitting amount.

It's over $100 or $150 here in Canada here before you have to use the PIN. Basically never have to use the PIN in day-to-day purchases.

But yes, when the PIN comes into play it's slower than cash.

Over here it's adjustable, but the default is 20 or 25 euros. Makes sense when the average salary is 500 euros.

A good cashier can process cash sometimes quicker than even the fastest card readers I've seen, and not all card readers are nearly that fast. A lot of them are slow, painfully so. If you have to sign, that's also slow, another step in the transaction.

What it works out to be is that sometimes it's better to use card and sometimes it is better to use cash if speed is a factor. Someone that takes too long because they are fumbling for cash are just as likely to be the type of person that would have to fumble around for their card or have other issues operating the terminal.

Cash is quick and painless with only the most minimal amount of mental arithmetic necessary to give someone their change, not that your typical register won't spit it back out at you anyway.

If it is a sit down restaurant with table service though, there's no real positives or negatives to using either besides whatever is most convenient for you.

So all in all, all I see in any push to go cashless is the illusion of progress. It's all theater and it is strictly speaking, completely unnecessary to go cashless with considerable downsides if society is forced to.

I'm always taking lunch with a handfull of other devs from where I'm working. All the other pay cash, I'm always paying with a contactless card and I'm always taking more time, even when I don't have to enter the PIN.

And the inevitable rise in wireless card skimming that would ensue?

OK maybe not inevitable but it's made a lot easier with wireless cards etc. And I do expect 'thugs' to catch on.

Plus, you can only do that on lower sums. If I pay a higher sum than allowed for wireless pay where I live (Sweden) I'd still need chip and pin, and often in restaurants I am told to enter the total sum plus whatever tip I want to give, then confirm, then enter pin.

So I'd say cash can be quicker in some cases, slower in other, but my main concern is in the area of privacy and security both of my cash, and my ability to pay in force majura-cases.

> With the new addition of Pay Wave where you can simply tap a card on a sensor, I do not see how paying with cash and then waiting for the teller to sort of the bills and provide the right change can be faster.

Have you seen the automated checkouts a lot of stores are installing? There is no cashier. You scan your items and insert bills in the slot. The change is calculated by a computer and returned immediately.

How on Earth inserting multiple bills in a small slot, waiting for the change and retrieving all the nice and heavy little coins is faster than just tapping with your phone/card?

There are machines with slots capable of accepting multiple bills at once.

The coins needed to make any amount of change only weigh about an ounce.

This still takes more time than touching a wallet to a sensor

> This still takes more time than touching a wallet to a sensor

How? The machines will literally take an entire stack of bills at once, read them and make change in the same time it takes to verify an electronic transaction.

You would need a stopwatch with sub-second precision to even tell the difference. Which one is faster is down more to the specific model of payment processing machine than the payment method.

And even if the card was theoretically faster, we're no longer talking about waiting for some high school kid to fumble around for 30 seconds. A difference of 300 milliseconds one way or the other is just pedantry.

It’s at least a 30 seconds difference. You need to read the amount, extract your wallet, check if you have the exact amount of money to avoid filling your wallet with useless coins, 90% of the time you realise that you don’t have it and you start fumbling between your notes to find the correct amount that can give you a reasonable change. At that point you can start to have fun fighting with the machine that won’t accept some of your notes because are too old/crumpled. Even in the unlikely case that it accepts all your notes now you still need to wait for the change and retrieve all of it, with some coin that will invariably be stuck somewhere. Or instead of paying with your sweat and your blood using cash you can simply put your hand in your pocket, retrieve the phone and tap it on the sensor.

You don't need to do any of that. It's a machine that makes exact change. Is your purchase $52.27 but in your wallet you have 39 cents in coins and $64 in bills? Counting is for computers. Just dump the contents of your wallet into the machine and let it figure it out.

And you can't count processing failures on one side but not the other. The machine can't read your card. The network is down. Some jerk at the bank fat fingered something and now you have to spend six hours on the phone sorting it out.

Have you not used a modern contactless payment system before? They're fast enough to be used on the barriers of underground railway systems which see thousands of passengers pass through at peak times. Even the time taken to empty the contents of your wallet into the appropriate slot of a cash system takes longer than those machines, never mind time taken to process the notes and coins, dispense change and allow you to put that change back in the appropriate compartments of your wallet. And change-dispensing machines with their scanning software, moving parts and need to be fully stocked with change break down at least as often as networks for card based payments.

> Have you not used a modern contactless payment system before? They're fast enough to be used on the barriers of underground railway systems which see thousands of passengers pass through at peak times.

That isn't that impressive when you consider the equivalent traffic was handled in cash before electronic payment systems even existed.

> Even the time taken to empty the contents of your wallet into the appropriate slot of a cash system takes longer than those machines, never mind time taken to process the notes and coins, dispense change and allow you to put that change back in the appropriate compartments of your wallet.

Describing all the steps in detail doesn't make the total any longer. And half of that stuff can be done in parallel with other stuff. You can get out your money while you're waiting in line. You can put it away while you're walking out of the store. It doesn't add any real latency.

> And change-dispensing machines with their scanning software, moving parts and need to be fully stocked with change break down at least as often as networks for card based payments.

Stores typically have more than one checkout machine to handle the volume during peak traffic times, so one can be down and there is not even any consequence outside of peak hours, and only a minor delay even then.

If a network is down, it's down. Retail stores typically don't have redundant internet connections.

Seriously just admit that you never used a contactless system and stop here. It is becoming quite ridiculous and surreal if you are saying that using cash is as fast as tapping with a contactless to enter the underground. I would really be curious how could Waterloo handle over 100 million passengers per year with cash.

NYC used subway tokens until the 1980s, which are effectively cash. So did pretty much everything else up to that point, since not long before that electronic payment systems didn't exist.

The obvious solution for extremely high volume systems is to have the fares come out to even numbers so there is no need to make change. How long are you imagining it takes to drop a coin or two into a turnstile?

The obvious solution is the status quo contactless payment system that can collect £4.90 from your wallet faster than the ticket holders can find the slot.

Even if London Underground decided to upset millions of commuters by raising the price to a round £5 in the most expensive attempt to rescue an incorrect HN claim yet, the contactless system would still be quicker than the machine that scans a fiver. Trust us, we've actually used both...

Your claim was that it isn't possible, but it is possible as evidenced by the fact that it has actually been done in the past.

> Even if London Underground decided to upset millions of commuters by raising the price to a round £5

If people would really be so upset with a 2% fare increase then imagine how happy they would be to round it down rather than up. It's even good policy -- encourage mass transit over driving.

For that matter you could issue single ride transit tokens for whatever exact price you like. The point of cash isn't to use a specific currency, it's to allow people to travel and make small purchases anonymously.

Even what NYC does now is better than using contactless payments, because you can buy a Metro Card for cash without providing a name. It's not quite as good because they still track the cards, but it's still better than having all of everyone's movements perfectly tracked by an Orwellian state computer.

> the contactless system would still be quicker than the machine that scans a fiver. Trust us, we've actually used both...

Comparing the fastest available electronic system to some kind of anachronism with paper tickets and slow readers is obviously going to favor the newer system -- although even then it's still a matter of seconds. But how is that the fair comparison? The comparison has to be between the best available electronic system and the best available cash-equivalent system that preserves privacy.

And dropping a dollar coin or a transit token into a slot in a turnstile is as close to instantaneous as makes no difference. Certainly not enough to justify tracking everyone's movements.

On the automated checkouts I've seen in my country, there's no possibility to pay by cash. You have to pay by card in order to use the self-checkout.

> On the automated checkouts I've seen in my country, there's no possibility to pay by cash. You have to pay by card in order to use the self-checkout.

And in stores that don't accept credit cards you have to pay cash. What does that have to do with anything? Machines that can rapidly make change for cash purchases are still a thing that exist. Stores whose customers prefer them can install them -- and then not have to pay a percentage to the credit card companies.

They just pay a percentage to the change maker instead...

What change maker? The store owns the machine, which net saves them money because then they don't need as many cashiers.

I made an assumption that these registers/change machines were leased, as well. This is from my background knowing that most chain restaurant POS terminals are leased out.

Then every cash handler must not be inept when it comes to breaking bills and making change.

Unfortunately, that’s already a trend we’ve been seeing in the US youth for the past 20 years.

I see the opposite here in the USA in rural areas. People are constantly holding up the lines because of the chip/pin updates or other failures and confusions. With cash it is always just simple and quick.

And I know it doesn't matter but when you pay with a credit card or third party payment service you are not paying. Some other entity is.

It doesn’t help that card terminal/chip card rollout in the US has been catastrophic.

I live in the U.S. and haven't noticed anything catastrophic about it. Am I living in a bubble?

Possibly not for you, but I noticed a long roll-out of switching from stripe to chip. Then, a lot of card readers in major retail stores not "allowing" chip transactions and having to switch. Still even now, most fast-food places disallow chip transactions.

Most recently, I have a repeatable bug in Walgreens where my newly issued credit card (old expired) will not run chip transactions. Their system requires me to attempt a chip transaction first (of which I must do three times) before it will allow me to finally swipe (and work). If I attempt to swipe at first it will require a chip transaction (and on, and on, and on...)

However I can't completely blame Walgreens on it; they're the only one that's reproducable 100% of the time (3-5x now since card was issued). I've also had to re-do transactions with that card at Target but that's hit-and-miss.

"but the amount of time and energy saved by having "exact change" every transaction should increase productivity enough to cover any costs."

I doubt that's the case, especially since fees are usually percent based. Someone accepting, making change for, and depositing $1000 vs. $1 takes about the same amount of effort, but $1000 charged will cost them much more than $1 charge. Maybe if the fees were flat or something like 0.001%, but they're always much higher.

This is on one side for tax avoidance reasons. But on the other side everyone I know working in gastronomy rages about Americans and their aggressive credit card usage, how slow usually the process is (these people are trained with cash, plus nearly anywhere in Europe you round the sum to something easy to give out anyway as a tip).

From what I can tell these people simply prefer cash. I just asked and my gf said it's just a lot faster to do it by hand.

> In Germany almost every cafe, restaurant, or bar requires you pay with cash.

We must be living in very different Germanys.

Cash is the norm at all casual places in Berlin.

I'm living in optimusrex Germany, too. You might be alone in cashless Germany.

Maybe different cities? I‘m in Munich.

Stuttgart reporting in.

You're legally obliged to accept cash in Germany so offering any other means of paying must be well worth it (fees, readers etc.).

Agreed, when statistically someone is willing to “overspend” on non-cash, the nominal 2-3% transaction fee seems, well, nominal.

Simple, it's easier to pocket some money when you do it in cash. Going on a limb here, the cafes and bars you've frequented aren't the well established with a long history-kind.

It’s the transaction fees, Germans are “thrifty”.

It's not all about productivity.

> In Germany almost every cafe, restaurant, or bar requires you pay with cash.

I suspect it is to some extent because it is easier to cook the books when you are receiving a large chunk of your income in cash, much less easy if it flows into your company through your bank account.

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