business news in context, analysis with attitude

USA Today has a story about how Jay Zagorsky, economist and research scientist at Ohio State University, who maintains that "we are sort of on the edge of seeing more and more businesses that don't take cash."

The story points to some select businesses - at this point, still a tiny minority - that don't accept cash. But, the story says, "Retailers and others have plenty of reasons to eliminate cash, Zagorsky said. Clerks or attendants might steal. Or there could be robberies. No one has to count change or make sure a cash drawer balances. Store employees would not have to haul cash to the bank at the end of the day."

However, while "the use of credit cards seems harmless, but it comes with a cost — one that retailers tend to pass on to customers. They typically end up raising the prices charged to everyone — including those who pay with cash — to cover the fees that credit card companies charge, Zagorsky said."

USA Today does note that "a 2013 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice indicated a trend away from paper checks. Debit cards were the most popular form of payment, with 31.1% of payments covered by debit cards. Yet 26.3% of payments were covered by cash; while 22.5% are covered by credit cards; and the rest are made by check, money order, prepaid cards, electronic payments and online bill paying."
KC's View:
These "cashless society" stories seem to pop up every couple of months. While I don't think that we're in any danger of this happening anytime soon, I do think that the inexorable movement is toward a kind of commerce where cash is far less important than it traditionally has been.