Are we heading towards a cashless economy in the US? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The answer is complex depending on where you are in the world, but here are the broad strokes: Asia, Canada, and parts of Europe are moving toward cashless, contactless, digital-forward payment models, and the rest of the world is catching up. In America, there are plenty of bumps along the road to going cashless, and the whole notion has sparked an interesting debate. For example, last year when Amazon opened its first cashless (and cashierless) Go stores, it seemed the idea might be catching on. But plenty of Americans objected, and their cities passed laws banning cashless stores, which they feel are discriminatory against low-income consumers.
In Sweden, one of the most cash-free countries, business owners and rock bands alike love to extol the virtues of a cashless system. Some Americans, too: the salad chain Sweetgreen, for example, posted a passionate defense of going cashless, and its CEO spoke about those reasons, which include better safety and hygiene for employees, increased transaction speed, and reducing the time most customers wait in lines. Other businesses also argue that cash is less environmentally friendly, since trees are required to print paper money, which is then hauled around in gas-guzzling armored vehicles.
However the cashless debate plays out, one thing is certain: retailers around the globe are feeling more and more pressure to compete. Cash may no longer be king, but customer experience is, and to remain on top of the heap, businesses must think harder about the options they're presenting to increasingly digitally-savvy consumers.
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