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The wheels are already in motion. It's been that way for decades now. Look around you. The banks will start pushing even harder to get rid of physical currency soon. Except strong discouragement. You already can't do many things with physical currency. Like downloading music or films. This list will just keep growing until eventually physical currency just won't be accepted in most places. This is perfect for the banks.

I don't even carry cash around with me anymore everything is touch and go card payments which is really convenient.

There are some down sides though in that now banks know exactly what you are spending your money on and stores are now facing increasing terminal fees from these transactions ( in Australia anyway).

Dude where do you live or what kind of bubble do you surround yourself with? I can tell you that cash is still the king in Europe in many places. I don't mean the usual boring cycle of commute-work-lunch-work-bar/restaurant/cinema/shopping/etc., that obviously can be covered by card. But stepping outside of this, many places are cash-only. Small entrance fees, food stalls on the side of the road, ice cream shop etc. My car garage not doing credit-card payment for god knows why reason. Yes you can somehow get by and exist, but depriving yourself of many small and often wonderful experiences. Few banknotes don't take any space/weight anyway.

Just to be clear - we talk about 2nd biggest city in Switzerland and life in and around it.

>My car garage not doing credit-card payment for god knows why reason.

Tax evasion, avoiding deal with chargebacks, and not having to pay merchant account fees. However, those fees are nearly zero for debit card accounts, and chargebacks are pretty much non existent with Chip + Pin (or Apple Pay or EMV), so I would most likely guess tax evasion. I've been to many restaurants that offer 10% discounts for cash payments, versus card, which works perfectly as they get a portion of the sale on the record for plausible deniability, and a portion off the record.

I very rarely carry cash now. Very occasionally you get a place which is cash only, but in London at least there are vastly more places which are card only (small stalls etc which have a iPad EPOS and a card reader, which avoids the need to worry about cash being counted/stolen/paid into the bank).

I think this is _really_ regional. Lots of places in Germany don't take cards. Virtually everywhere in Ireland takes cards now (for small places via mobile phone gadgets). Some places in Sweden don't take cash.

Dude, In which bubble do you live?;-) In the netherlands, (maestro) card payments are king. Currently in Denmark and last week in Sweden: (maestro) card payments. And in Sweden apps like Swish are really popular as well. (Pay to a phone number).

Granted: germany and france are a bit behind in this.

France may be behind, but Germany is consciously choosing to keep using cash. By the way, the Dutch central bank has also said that cash should remain.

Chiming in from Canada. Tap to pay is mostly ubiquitous here. You will find the odd fresh fruit/vegetable stand that doesn't at least have something like Square set up, but that is the exception. I only have cash on me if someone happens to repay me in cash.

In London, food stalls by the side of the road generally use wireless or USB-powered contactless gadgets, connected to phones via bluetooth, to take payment.

My local Turkish grill has not only started taking cards, but has signed up to some kind of healthy eating wheeze:


This country isn't what it used to be.

If you are really in Europe, you should know better than to generalize across 44 countries.

In the UK most of these smaller places got card machines with the rollout of contactless (which has lower fees), there are still some places that only accept cash, but it's not many anymore.

> Like downloading music or films.

I mean, it's understandable that you don't want to be mailing banknotes to Google Play to get your copy of Despacito, but you can definitely buy credit with Google Play in cash (at least in Canada and the U.S.).

Amazon, Apple, and a handful of others are much the same.

Outside of the Western world it is common that when you order something online you can go to a bank or other place that has a reverse-atm (sort of) where you can pay for the order with the code you got in the email / webpage by inserting cash into the machine.

This is often found in countries that don't have proper online payment infrastructures.

Yes. In Indonesia, for example, less than 3% of the population have credit cards, yet online shopping is extremely popular, with many payment options (reverse ATM, as you describe, or paying at one of the ubiquitous Indomaret or Circle K convenience stores, and so on).

Steam actaully offers 'cash on delivery' for games through their Indian payment partner. The payment provider will send someone to your house who will collect the cash payment and log it in their dashboard, which will trigger it being activated for download in your library.

You can buy Google Play credits, iTunes cards, Netflix cards in convenience stores in Norway. With cash.

The only problem is that those top-up cards, as they are known, might be hard-locked to the EU region. Those gift cards tend to be region specific. I don't mean to spam but maybe European cards don't work in Cincinnati so to speak. Don't spend more than you can afford to immediately lose abroad. These Americans need a dictionary for everything, and that's why we love them. Imagine if the British imperial loss over in USA, was a British intelligence job. Owning you for decades you poor Americans.

Edit: typo Fixed

We wouldn't want to restage the tea party or baton Rogue fight over some ten dollar cards.

From a government or bank's point of view, I can see the incentives for phasing out physical currency.

But for a common person, there are definitely uses:

* Tipping, when you don't want your server to have to report the tip as taxable income

* Buying/selling in places without reliable internet service

* Buying/selling illegal items

* Certain types of bars, etc. where it's logistically easier to use cash than handle a card + tipping on a receipt

* Training yourself to be more frugal by restricting yourself to cash for shopping / eating, where the shock factor of "look how much I'm spending!" is more visceral

* Giving to the visibly homeless

* Buying lemonade from kids

Also, I just like paying in cash sometimes. I'm hoping that the practical uses of it would create enough public outcry if banks/governments ever tried to phase it out.

Few notes:

>Tipping, when you don't want your server to have to report the tip as taxable income; Certain types of bars, etc. where it's logistically easier to use cash than handle a card + tipping on a receipt

The 1st option is clear tax evasion. Tipping is quite unpopular in Europe. When I tip I just leave a note after paying by card and that's that. Cards are immensely better when it comes to bars, restaurants, etc. (Actually they are better in almost any regard as losing them is rather fine, just get a new one from the bank)

>Buying/selling in places without reliable internet service

I can't think of a place w/o mobile internet, even mountain treks have decent internet.

>I can't think of a place w/o mobile internet, even mountain treks have decent internet.

I'm not sure where you are located, but in the US there are still quite many rural areas without cell service, even in the areas fairly close to major metropolitan areas. I can drive two hours from NYC and find entire towns that have no service.

I also just got back from a two week trip around the UK, where I expected better coverage but actually found I regularly had no cell service (on the biggest mobile carrier) in the countryside, including in the center of some villages.

Note that if you were using your American phone, it's likely it does not support all bands used by UK telcos (especially since LTE became a thing, true worldphones aren't really a thing anymore). I was amazed at how terrible the phone signal was in San Francisco last time I was there, until I realised that my (European) phone only supported one of the LTE bands used in the US.

Agreed. In some Canadian provinces, tipping is taxed. There is even a "minimum assumed tip" by the government, so restaurants can't declare having received $0. It's draconian, but it's a sector that has been caught again and again doing systemic tax evasion.

Payment terminals have a tip $ or % option, which is more convenient than pen and paper which we often still see in the US.

Unless it's a low-end restaurant, most restaurants in Canadian big cities pay well. There are huge staff shortages and lots of turnover because it's an exhausting and difficult job.

re:Europe and Internet: Bavaria has pretty terrible service outside of towns.

>re:Europe and Internet: Bavaria has pretty terrible service outside of towns.

True that. Last year I went on a trip through and there were times the internet was proper bad GPRS (edge), still enough for map navigation. However, I cant recall areas w/o any service at all. GPRS is enough for bank card services.

As someone mentioned - if you use a NA based phone, you might lack a full support in Europe for LTE

> I can't think of a place w/o mobile internet, even mountain treks have decent internet.

I went to a wedding in Ireland two years ago, and we didn't have a data connection for most of the weekend. We didn't even have a reliable _phone_ connection most of the time (Best Man forgot his cuff links, and it took three phones before we found someone with a signal, and even then that was patchy).

Using Google Fi and driving through rural Michigan, it's not too uncommon for me to enter an area without service.

>The 1st option is clear tax evasion.

Yes, and?

>I can't think of a place w/o mobile internet

There are dead zones all over the rural east coast. I can imagine other parts of the country are even worse.

>Yes, and?

So the argument is the cash existence is providing support for tax evasion?

Yes. Are you not a fan of tax evasion?

Edit: To be clear, I am not against taxation as a concept. However I do have issue with the American tax code and the atrocities committed with its revenue, so I am not morally opposed to helping other members of the middle-class avoid paying taxes on all of their income.

> I can't think of a place w/o mobile internet, even mountain treks have decent internet.

That was rather funny, had a good laugh at that...

Bars that don't take card nowadays are often a bit shady. Especially those in busy city/town centres.

Willing to bet not all of that money is declared to Mr Tax Man.

> Giving to the visibly homeless

There are already homeless people carrying QR codes to accept digital donations, I assume a lemonade stand could do something similar...

> ...QR codes to accept digital donations

Any idea what service that is through? Do people that are donating need to download an app, or just go to website or...?

I've never come across this

Why would a common person want to help their fellow citizen evade taxes?

Because I don't think someone waiting tables should have to sacrifice a chunk of their income to fund the American military-industrial complex.

Is it specifically people that wait tables, or do you support no taxes for all for their first $x in income?

The latter.

If tax evasion were not incredibly common among the wealthy, and if fewer of our tax dollars were used to create war, subsidize big business, etc., I'd be less inclined to feel this way.

Maybe, but having previously worked for a company that makes physical money, it's a healthy business they are in. There is more cash being printed now than ever before, the second derivative on the the amount of cash over time (d2Cash/dt2) is definitely positive.

My personal opinion is that there will always be a need for physical analog money. The power goes out in Puerto Rico (hurricanes) and Manhattan (ConEdison) sometimes (just recapping the stories covered on NPR during my drive to work this morning).

Is this really true? At least in the US, I do not think the amount of cash (M0) is accelerating. Unless my reading of this is completely wrong: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/BASE That said the recession really throws this off.

> ...the second derivative on the the amount of cash over time (d2Cash/dt2) is definitely positive.

That's very interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if the volume of physical cash is growing with a growing economy, but the fact that it's accelerating is unexpected. Do you have any links to learn more about this?

> There is more cash being printed now than ever before, the second derivative on the the amount of cash over time (d2Cash/dt2) is definitely positive.

Is inflation speeding up, or are notes just retired more often?

Except that Mark Carney has said very publicly that he sees absolutely no chance of physical cash going away.

I wonder what Mark Carney would have said if you'd asked him in 1990 whether shops were going to go away because people would be buying (practically) everything on a phone in people's pocket which could communicate with literally every else's phone in their pocket anywhere in the world instantly? And what about cryptocurrencies. People are rubbish at predicting the future.

Whether or not people's virtual cash valuation is going to continue to be represented by numbers on bits of paper and metal as opposed to numbers on computer databases seems like a yet more subtle idea to fail to fully grasp at the moment.

Shops aren't going away in all history to come and go. Some people and some cultures moreso actually understand what in life matters and some items will forever need physical fitting, thankfully for our raw three-dimensional reality. Cash won't ever be erased from Earth's surface not in a thousand reincarnarions, mark those words on the outer layers of your soul.

It will be like paper maps and stamps, available yet only used by old people who grew up with it.

For hiking tours, a printed map is way more comfortable for people to gather around and discuss the way. And it does not drain batterie ...

but a printed map is battered by the rain

Most of my hiking maps are printed on Tyvek or the equivalent.

And in any case a map is a piece of safety equipment - you spec if for the worst case scenario.

Classical paper maps yes. I manage to trash them after one hike even without rain.

But nowdays you get them coated in a plastic layer ... very nice, water proof and durable.

edit: or like the othe commenter mentioned, it is not a plastic layer and rather plastic itself called Tyvek or similar

Map holders are a thing

Well this old person has had to donate my backup paper maps to people whose phones were out of charge or who had no map at all and wanted to know where they were.

NB When in Scottish mountains I take:

- An iPhone with offline OS maps

- An external battery for my iPhone and cable

- A paper OS map in a waterproof map case

- A printed A4 backup of an OS map in a plastic bag that I can give to others or to use if other maps become unusable (e.g. blown away - which has happened)

80% of the time I just use the iPhone - still have to use OS map and compass occasionally when things are particularly exciting.

Nobody expects cash to vanish in the foreseeable timescale - but who knows what the situation will be in 30-50 years time? Credit cards as we know them today are barely that old.

And with each series of UK banknote in circulation for ~14 years, planning to put someone on a note in 4 series time is pretty forward-looking :)

30-50 years ago people still used shillings!

They'd probably keep it for old times sake and history even if it isn't used much.

Anecodatal but: In London there are already multiple shops/restaurants/bars that no longer accept cash.

I bought a falafel wrap from a basic market stall the other day in London and they didn’t take cash at all. Makes sense- less germs, less chance of robbery, easier accounts, better chance of adhering to tax laws, and better convenience to me as a customer.

"better chance of adhering to tax laws" That wouldn't be seen as an upside for the majority of small traders I've known.

Plus its only convenient because you had the payment method they accepted.

I've seen the same in Amsterdam, but I believe it's important to understand why they do that.

According to additional anecdotal evidence, no cash what so ever is their way of reducing the odds of a burglary. Within myriads of shops, one shop that doesn't offer cash payments is way less likely to be broken into.

A little off topic but interesting point: In America restaurants must take cash but stores don’t. This is because once you’ve eaten you now owe a debt and cash must be accepted as payment for debts, as required by law. But if you are buying something you don’t have a debt yet, so they are free to turn you down.

One way to get around this would be to eat your candy bar or whatever in the store. Now they must take your cash, or accept not getting paid I guess.

> One way to get around this would be to eat your candy bar or whatever in the store.

That would be theft or criminal damage.

I know people who regularly eaten or drank a store's product while shopping and then scanned the empty container at the cash register. Never heard of anyone having a problem with that.

Just becomes some people get away with it doesn't make the practice okay. As the owner of a larger store where you're dealing with random people, you're not going to do very well if you have a policy of "you can use whatever you want and then pay for it later". Why is why none of them do, and I would have never thought that something so common sense would need to be made explicit when you enter a store.

That’s exactly how restaurants work. What’s different about stores?

As an aside, I eat things at stores all the time. Grocery stores, convenience store, whatever. No one has ever said anything to me and no one cares.

Also I drink all the time at bars and pay at the end. The idea of “tab” is very very old, and it seems to work pretty well.

When I was a kid and my mom took me shoe shopping, I would always wear my shoes out of the store. Most other kids do the same things. And you pay at the end, not before!

Have you considered this is just some personal hang up you have and not representative of other people?

And you’re talking about common sense, but I don’t know where you live, but in America it’s very very common to eat in stores. Parents give their kid a candy bar and eat it. This happens all the time.

Honestly, what you’re saying sounds a little crazy.

Restaurants and bars are not comparable, as they are customarily paid after the meal. Also, there is one to one customer service there so someone is keeping an eye on you, as opposed to a large retail establishment.

And the idea of tabs doesn't apply to my comment since I excluded out situations where the customer's credibility is known by the store employees. I live in America, and while I haven't paid attention, I don't notice people using what they're buying before they have bought it.

The common sense is that what if someone comes into your store who can't afford to pay for what they have consumed? Do you think Walmart and Target and grocery stores can afford to make it official policy to let people consume before they buy and not suffer losses from people who toss the wrapper or empty bottle in an aisle somewhere? Or can't afford to pay?

It works if it's a small place and you trust everyone, but once you scale up, I don't see how it works.

Because of social norms? I don't need to pay for a candy bar if I eat it, but I do, because that's just what I do. There's so much trust in almost every society that what you're talking about just doesn't happen very often.

Every person has many opportunities to steal pretty much all the time without consequence, and yet, they don't.

Have you ever heard of someone bringing up a candy bar wrapper or empty drink container to the cashier and suffering any consequence? Even criticism?

As far as I can tell stores have a policy they just don't tell the customers about.

Yes, I have, which is why I know it's sometimes (BUT NOT ALWAYS) treated as theft or criminal damage. In England.

Weird. Why punish people who are attempting to pay? Seems like a self-defeating move.

This is the reason why fast-food restaurants are always prepaid. A regular restaurant could also require you to pay for the most expensive combination up front and then pay the difference back.

Do you have a source for this? Beyond the print on the back of dollar bills, that is?

Saw that recently in Copenhagen also.

It's only allowed in certain circumstances, although I don't know how well that's enforced -- some places are just very reluctant to take cash.


> It's been that way for decades now.

Given the glacial rate of change in the direction that the actors involve favor that indicates, that's not really an argument for the cash will be gone in 50 years argument so much as one against it.

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