Whatever some experts may claim, a cashless society is not imminent
People who are addicted to cash payments are often singled out as targets. Indeed, public authorities consider that they are all potential tax evaders. And other institutions such as banks consider that the use of cash is costing them a lot of money due to banknote counting and cash dispensers. Having said that, we only have to read the recent report of the ECB (European Central bank) to recognize that many Europeans still want to use cash in their everyday life. The ECB study presents an estimation of the number and value of cash transactions in all 19 euro area countries in 2016. The results show that around 79% of all payments at POS (point-of sale transactions) were made with cash, 19% with credit cards and 2% with other payment instruments. German and Austrian consumers with almost 80% of POS payments are particularly keen on cash when they buy. By contrast, Swedish consumers only use cash at a level of 15%. Moreover, the ECB's survey underlines the fact that a quarter of people living in the euro zone keep cash at home as a precautionary reserve. There are two plausible explanations to such a behavior. The first of these is the remembering, especially amongst the older generations, of the conflicts that have marked the previous century, including massive destruction and privations of all kinds. But today, the most plausible explanation is that a large number of citizens have little confidence in the international financial system. Many of us have seen pictures of men and women during the last Greek debt crisis queuing in front of closed banks. In a word, people no longer had access to their bank accounts. They experienced a real injustice. That is why cash must remain a mean of payment, among others. And using cash is also simply felt by many citizens as an indispensable ingredient of their freedom.