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Why Cash Matters: Cash is Universal

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

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Company: ATM Industry Association

Cash continues to dominate the global economy. One way it achieves this is its universal status. Cash does not discriminate – it welcomes all users, all transactions. And, it doesn’t require complicated or expensive technology tools to use. This is the second in a series of articles that explore why cash is critical to financial inclusion.
Everyone can use cash.
Cash does not judge its users by age, gender, job or financial status. Cash doesn’t even care whether you have a bank account. In fact, according to the World Bank, just 50 percent of the world’s population who is 15 or older has an account with a financial institution. You may associate this with third-world countries, but take a look at the U.S.: even here, there are nearly 8 percent of households that are not linked to a formal financial institution. And then of course, there are children. While credit cards and other payment systems have age requirements, or certain technological acumen, cash remains friendly and open to all.


Cash simplifies all transactions.
One of the biggest appeals of cash is that it’s broad-reaching and multi-purpose. Many industries are becoming increasingly complex when it comes to payments. For example, take a simple retail transaction. For consumers to pay for an item, simply take an amount of cash from your wallet, hand it to the cashier, and you’re on your way. However, if a consumer pays with a card, they may be asked for identification. Paying with a card requires swiping or entering your chip card into a card reader. And, in some countries you’ll also need to enter a pin.

Yet from the perspective of a business owner, cash is far easier. To accept cash, all that is needed is a cash register. Accepting card transactions means getting set up with a merchant services company, having a dedicated internet connection, setting up an additional bank account, choosing specific card brands to accept, staying up-to-date with the latest terminal software, and so on.

The Federal Reserve
reports that cash continues to be the most frequently used consumer payment instrument and that it is used in a variety of circumstances. In some instances, cash accounts for over two thirds of transactions in a certain dollar range.


Cash is always there – no matter what happens.
The rise of credit cards and other forms of payment also has led to an increased dependence on a technology infrastructure to support it. This is especially problematic in the case of natural disasters and outages. When internet service providers go down, disasters occur or credit card payment terminals get broken, cash serves as an immediate, handy backup. It works all the time, anywhere and requires absolutely no technology. In a world where we are increasingly dependent on technology and internet access, cash offers a refreshing simple way of doing business.

The universal nature of cash continues to make it a powerful form of payment. Next, we’ll be exploring how cash creates a foundation of trust within every transaction.

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