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Global Movement Toward Cashless Society

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Technologies are launching at regular intervals that continue to knock cold hard cash out of the top list of preferred payment methods for consumers. From loyalty programs on credit cards that earn points, to mobile wallet convenience, consumers are seeking the easy, trackable ways to pay for purchases that also integrate with their digital lives. But what if stores just refused cash altogether? It could be argued that – even with the new technologies – cash still lingers in most people’s minds as the currency that will be accepted everywhere. No machines or checking ID needed, right? In a recent article on CBS News, a MoneyWatch author looks to Sweden for answers about the global movement toward a cashless society. As with many other trends, this Scandinavian country, the author maintains, is giving us a “glimpse of the future of commerce in America” with its largely cashless society. There are a few places in America that no longer accept cash, some vending machines from giants such as Coca Cola can be found that accept only electronic payment, and many are seeing the benefits of this movement. Not only do the younger generation consumers prefer the convenience of eliminating cash from their payment repertoire, but stores are finding that removing cash from the equation has benefits such as lowering storage costs and removing the threat of physical theft. In the rewards and incentives space, cash has never been king. From physically mailed benefits, to today’s instant, digitally delivered rewards, technology is in the driver’s seat. At Virtual Incentives, we’re always looking to the financial technology industry trends to innovate when it comes to the delivery and fulfillment of rewards. As consumers demand heightened convenience in payment options, they expect the same from any rewards, incentives and loyalty programs. A good example of this is our Virtual MasterCard portfolio, which creates a mobile user experience that incites loyalty and engagement. From start to finish, ease-of-use is at the forefront. The recipient receives a personal reward notification by email, registers his or her Virtual MasterCard account and can immediately shop online. As if all these reasons aren’t compelling enough to keep moving toward a cashless society, the CBS News article wraps up with a statistic that provides more food for thought: “Cash isn’t in any danger of disappearing, but maybe it should: The U.S. has much to gain by phasing out cash, according to researchers from Tufts University. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, they noted that the U.S. spends $200 billion each year to keep cash in circulation.” Maybe it is time to go digital.

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