The countries most and least prepared for the cashless economies of the future

When the coronavirus outbreak hit, we were all encouraged to go cashless. And it's one change that has continued to be part of the new normal in the post-Covid world. A study by payment processing company Square found that the number of people in the USA and U.K. who operate 100% cashlessly is up to 31%.

And with talk of central bank digital currencies and governments adopting stablecoin crypto payments, it looks like the future of finance will be cashless and digital.

But is the world ready for this monetary revolution? The finance experts at Merchant Machine have the answers. They analyzed geotagged Twitter sentiment to see how people in every county in the world feel about going cashless.

Here's a summary of the results.

But first, what would a cashless society look like?

The benefits of going cashless

There are potential benefits to going cashless, for people and businesses. A world without cash would mean...
  • Less chance of getting robbed
  • Less tax fraud, employee theft, and money counterfeiting
  • Faster service
  • Fewer germs passing around

The cons of going cashless

Now let's look at the potential con of going cashless...
  • It excludes people without access to bank accounts, credit, or mobile technology.
  • Excludes people who aren't digitally literate
  • Privacy issues. No anonymity
  • It could pave the way for a financial surveillance state where every transaction is tracked and recorded.

Does the world want to go cashless?

Cash is king? Not anymore.

The Countries & States That Most Want or Reject A Cashless Society

Most countries are ready to ditch paper money forever and switch to a fully cashless society. 54 countries are prepared to go 100% cashless, according to the Twitter data analyzed by Merchant Machine, while 32 nations would prefer to keep paying for stuff with physical forms of money.

The U.S., Canada, Russia, and Australia are four of the most pro-cashless societies on the planet.

Sweden is another country embracing the idea that the future of money is digital. In fact, the Scandinavian country is already pretty much cashless. Less than 10% of Swedes pay for anything using cash, and there are now just 32 ATMs per 100,000 people. Sweden is also one of the few countries where vendors can legally refuse to accept cash as payment.

Many commentators believe Sweden will be the world's first fully-cashless society and that it could happen as soon as March 2023!

Going cashless in the USA

In a recent survey published by Gallup, more than 6 out of 10 (64%) Americans said it is "very likely" or "likely" that the U.S. will be a cashless society within the next decade.

Many people in the USA already live their own version of a cashless society. Over four-in-ten Americans (41%) say that none of their purchases in a typical week are paid for using cash. That same figure was 29% in 2018 and 24% in 2015.

With stats like that, it should be no surprise to hear that the vast majority of U.S. states are ready to go cashless. Twitter data analyzed by Merchant Machine found that 48 out of 50 USA states expressed positive sentiments toward the notion of a cashless society.

The U.S. states that don't want to go cashless

Delaware is the most anti-cashless society in the USA. More than one in three (35%) of relevant tweets from the Diamond State were negative.

Oddly enough, Delaware is the H.Q. of several major financial firms invested in the widespread adoption of cashless payment methods. Visa and Mastercard have corporate offices in the state, primarily due to Delaware's very generous (some would even say immoral) tax breaks for big business. But that's a topic for another discussion.

But, like the U.S. in general, Delaware is a state with a considerable gap between the haves and the have-nots. Many 'have-nots' find it tough to apply for credit and debit cards, which goes a long way to explaining their negative feelings toward a cashless world.

Alabama is the second state in the USA to reject the idea of going cashless. Residents of The Yellowhammer State are well-known for their do-it-yourself attitude and fiercely independent streak. Many see cash as a fundamental part of a local, free market economy where folks can transact between themselves without interference from government or corporate interests.

The most pro-cashless nation on Earth

The Vietnamese government is pushing several policies designed to create a cashless society - and it's pushing them quite aggressively. It reduced the number of ATMs in major urban areas and launched several ad campaigns encouraging people, especially teenagers and young adults, to use mobile payment apps.

So how do the Vietnamese feel about this?

According to what they’re tweeting on Twitter, most are fully onboard with digital payments and money. 62.73% of tweets geotagged in Vietnam referencing cashless payment methods were analyzed as positive. That's the highest percentage out of anywhere included in the study, making Vietnam the most pro-cashless country in the world.

The most anti-cashless country in the world

Cash is still the number one payment method in France. Nearly 60% of all purchases in the country are made with cash.

And the French want to keep it that way.

Numerous studies have found that many French people see cash as essential to personal and economic freedoms. Moreover, an increasing number of French citizens no longer trust banks to look after their cash. Since 2020, there's been a considerable rise in French citizens withdrawing their money from the bank and keeping it at home or in private safety deposit boxes. Do they know something the rest of us don't?

And it's a very similar story when looking at the Twitter data coming out of France. More than half (54%) of cashless payment tweets fired out of France expressed fear, concern, or annoyance over being unable to use cash. That makes France the world's most anti-cashless society in the world.

The French are famous for taking collective and political action to resist change they don't like the look of.

And that's exactly what they're doing right now.

As the French government, banks, and international finance continue to push a cashless mindset, the French people have committed to using cash more than ever before. Payments made with physical money have soared this year, and there's a growing protest movement among local vendors and small business owners to reject any form of electronic payments.

Other countries that are less than keen on going cashless include Belgium (47.23%), Italy (46.62%), Ivory Coast (43.07%), and Senegal (40.96%).

Like it or not, the future of money is cashless. Start preparing now.

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