July 22, 2020
We've talked many times in our articles about the need to keep a small amount of cash in your minimalist wallet. Overwhelmingly there are more reasons why we still need cash as individuals, economies, and yes, even governments. So do we still need cash?
The answer is an easy YES, for the following reasons (there are more):
Believe it or not, there are a sizable number of people who do not have a bank account. Even with most American's performing electronic purchases and transfers, there is almost 8% of the population who does not have a bank checking or savings account. Over 60% of these people used to have bank accounts, but due to poor management the system that was their key to all kinds of services, turned into penalties and lost opportunities. For people in this category, do they still need cash? Well, cash is still king, and their only access to goods and services.
With the ubiquity of credit and debit cards you'd think every business would accept them. Well, you'd be wrong. Businesses who accept credit cards must pay upwards of 4% of the total amount in fees back to credit card processors (we're looking at you American Express) which cuts into their profit margins. To this end, many will only accept credit cards for payments exceeding a certain amount. Anything less and you're expected to pay in cash. Never leave home without emergency cash. So far, do we still need cash? Yes we do.
It's an economic and sociological principle. When a hole of opportunity opens up, something will fill it. When the flexibility of cash is removed, then something else will take its place. We're seeing this today with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies where they may not be physical in nature, they do provide an alternative which makes the transactions anonymous which is one of the benefits of cash. In countries where governments have tried to remove cash from their system to enable ultimate capture of taxable activity, other methods, or alternate currencies have taken its place. People are inventive and won't be restricted by any governments Orwellian adventures.
Ever been in a situation where the power is out? What about when the cabby can't take your card? What about the bell-hop? At the flea market, street food vendor, little girls lemonade stand? The situations can be endless, and just as inconveniencing when you realize you can't use your card to pay. We've even talked about the need to carry cash as one of the top 5 things you should have in your wallet. That's when it's time to pull out the emergency cash you keep stored in you minimal wallet. With the availability of even small amounts of cash, you can still function. These scenarios also demonstrate why a fully digital payment system will never materialize. Physical money will never by replaced and is always the lowest common denominator when something goes wrong and commerce need to happen.
Many people like using cash because its anonymous. With digital payments, every transaction is recorded and sold to retailers and others for marketing profits (with the growing exception of cryptocurrencies). Through our purchasing habits and routines we're providing insight into our own lives. Comfortable with that? If so, then we're done with this topic, but if not, then cash is your thing. For small items it also helps to use cash if you're not comfortable with the vendor and the safety of your credit card information. Regardless, for people who don't like government oversight of everything purchased, cash is their go-to.
Have we forgotten that in the 1970's the death knell for cash was already being rung due to the expanding growth of credit cards. We've seen it going for 40 years now and it has yet to overtake cash completely. The story is revisited and is as old as money itself. There's always a plan to replace it, but in the end, it always stays.
That being said, we're truly in a "cash low" society now as expressed by Georgia State University. It won't go away, but we're about as low as it can go before we end up moving to alternate currencies.
So do we still need cash? Yes, cash is still king.
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