Danes are some of the best at swinging the credit card. Whether it is online or in physical stores. In fact, we are so good at it that we are some of the best in Europe and almost two thirds of all transactions are made with a card of some kind or another.
But can you then conclude that cash soon will be a distant memory? It is not that easy to give a unilateral yes to – or no for that matter.
You shall not deny the king's coin
In Denmark, it’s not legal to refuse to receive cash during normal business hours. Of course, there are no rules without exceptions, but there are very strict guidelines for when to say no.
- The exception for remote sales and self-service. So, if you have a web shop or makes sales over the phone, then feel free to say no thanks to customers coming in with the piggy bank.
- The exception for areas exposed to robbery. If you live in an area where the Ministry of Trade and Industry has assessed that the neighbors have some difficulty in distinguishing between yours and mine, you can refuse it for certain periods of time. Just remember to let them know you are doing it.
- The exception when you have been granted a dispensation. If you ask nicely and meet all the requirements, you may well be allowed. But you have to have some heavy arguments.
If you do not comply with the rules, you can, if push comes to shove, be handed a fine. So, the shotgun answer to our introductory question must then be; no, cash are not distant memory.
Or is it?
The penny dropped
There are several researchers who believe that Denmark will be cashless from 2025. Not only is it costly to print and mint new cash, it also appears that the costs of digital transactions have become lower than cash. In 2019, the Danish Payments Council presented an analysis that concludes that the average socio-economic expenditure on cash payments is as high as DKK 4.50, whereas payments with certain types of cards are between DKK 2.40 and 4.10. The numbers are based on a set of parameters with both variable and fixed costs, including the time of payment and the price of technical equipment.
Another measure in the fight against cash is the removal of the 1000-krone banknote from some of the country’s banks. This was decided in continuation of the removal of the 500-Euro banknote, so as our “tusse” should also bite the dust. The argument is that it should be used as part of the fight against money laundering and the fight against terrorism. Thus, it would become more difficult for criminals to distribute cash if the amount of cash was doubled. However, The Danish National Treachery, has not yet followed troop on this. They still send out the red note to the printing house for distribution.
Who uses cash?
But does that mean that eventually only criminals, children and the elderly will make use of cash? Yes, indications would show that. And if you look at it objectively, you might see it a bit like this:
The criminals; there is historical evidence shows that there are few people who are more resourceful than criminals. No matter what obstacles one throws their way to stop their illegal actions, they will quickly find a new, and possibly better, method. So maybe the robbers in the future will drop the guns and the sawn-off shotguns and instead threaten the poor cashiers with the latest MacBook Pro and a USB cable.
Children; this segment has no legal rights when it comes to acquiring or using a credit card without parental approval. This should give them a natural limit, but the banks have also come up with solutions for this, with credit cards and apps for payments – with an age limit down to 7 years.
The elderly; cash is what the elderly have grown up with, and technology was something to be wary of. But generations are slowly disappearing and even the elderly are becoming more and more familiar with IT.
So, maybe the economic sages are right when they think we will be a cashless country by 2025. But it will be immensely difficult in the future to say, “the penny dropped”.
Or will it?
No one who can predict the future with certainty, but the trends show a clear direction. We are becoming more and more cashless. Even the homeless started to sense the problematics, and it is now possible to pay for the homeless newspaper “Hus Forbi” with MobilePay (Mobile Transfer). The same goes for the Red Cross and the Danish Cancer Society when they fundraise. So, there are no longer any excuses not to ease the bad conscience with donations.
Maybe it’s not possible to be completely free of cash, but almost, and the question is also, is that what we want? The most hardcore doomsayers will make the argument that should the worst of the worst happen and the internet went (yes, yes, I realize it borders on utopia), then there will be no currency to trade with. But then we would just have to find another form of exchange. Like the Vikings, maybe?
Another argument is that we leave ourselves far more open to attacks. An argument that perhaps has a little more substance to it. The question in this argument is whether or not it’s so much different than how it has always been? Speculation in various currencies has been used every day in cold warfare and both governments, the EU and other authorities are doing everything they can to combat this kind of thing. With internet commerce, we also keep a door ajar for any hackers who want to steal our virtual money. But how much worse is that than being held by gunpoint for lousy moolah just because you’ve chosen a career of direct customer contact?
Should the Danish krone be taken off the market, the Danish consumer will be completely at the mercy of the Danish banks. Banks, who now has fees on everything. Even transferring money between your own accounts – unless you already have money and enjoy titles like “premium customer”. Banks already have the option to block cards on suspicion of abuse and with all that information about our spending habits, what could the next step be then? Some will go so far as to say that it is the path to total surveillance and civic control, others will say that it is the next step in evolution.
But what are the consequences if we do not have cash? Is the value of a penny harder to assess for someone who has always only seen it as a series of pixels on a screen than for someone who has held it in his hand? Or will the economy, and thus the cash balance, become easier to manage, as you have to keep an eye on it all the time? And will it be easier for the public sector to keep an eye on law-abiding citizens when they follow in the digital footsteps?
Maybe it’s individually from person to person. One thing we can all quickly agree upon, however, is that time will tell what the future holds. A platitude, yes, but still true.
If you want a cashless business, we have a card terminal that can help you along the way. You can read more about it right here.