ISSUE 21 – Article 4

March 11, 2020

Money Obsolete: Moving Towards a Cashless Society

The stuff that dreams are made of, imagine a world where you no longer need to carry a wallet full of money to pay for anything. This future may be sooner that you think according to AMCHAM’s 4th Industrial Revolution Conference entitled ‘t.h.i.s.’ (Tech Hub Islands Summit).

Mr. Varun Mittal, EY Global Emerging Markets FinTech Leader, Associate Partner, suggests that there are many pros to being a cashless society: (1) Less crime, because with no cash in your wallet so there is nothing to steal. (2) Businesses also won’t need to store money or get more money when they run out or even deposit cash when they have too much on hand. (3) Digital payments can be traced which curbs corruption and increases economic growth. (4) For Government, reduced expenditure because it costs money to print, store and circulate bills and coins. (5) Going cashless makes it safe and convenient for customers as they save time (shopping on-line vs. waiting in bank lines) and potentially increasing overall sales for businesses. According to Mr. Mittal, ‘This shift for the normal man on the street is not only a cultural change but requires a mind shift to push a cashless society’, to make these benefits a reality.

Clearly, Sweden has embraced this mindset and concept of a cashless society and are plodding forward. Both banks and Government encourage citizens to adapt to the cashless economy. Children are also part of the transition. Swedish banks issue debit cards to citizens aged seven years of age or older (with parental permission), which translates to more than 97 percent of the population. This introduces them to the cashless society that will be part of their future.

The importance of moving towards a cashless society was universally agreed to at the AMCHAM Conference, by guest panelists, representing the banking, securities and retail sectors. The key takeaway is that Trinidad and Tobago is a country poised to usher in a new era of economic development and positive change to become the first cashless society in the Caribbean.