How to Fight a Global Pandemic by Moving towards a Cashless Society?

Welcome to our newest blog series on a cashless society. In this first post, Vince Graziani, CEO of IDEX Biometrics, discusses how to fight a global pandemic by moving towards a cashless society.

We are inevitably moving closer to a cashless society. Biometric payment cards; cards which incorporate a biological imprint from an individual, are about to become more familiar to all of us. The larger banks and credit card companies are already in the process of rolling out fingerprint technology cards. These cards contain a chip which stores the digital equivalent of your fingerprint, so that when you shop, either online or in-store, this is matched uniquely to you.

Biometrics have come a long way since they were first introduced to the public and we are about to see an exponential growth in this area. Their superior security and convenience, combined with the now, all-important health factors, makes the switch to payment cards inevitable.

Covid-19 and the Move to Going Cashless

Prior to the global pandemic of Covid-19 in 2020, mobile payments, although on the increase, had not been wholly adopted by consumers both in the U.S. and other western societies. It was odd, given that we all own smartphones and can pay with them that this hadn’t happened. People had simply not wanted to leave the familiarity of spending with cash behind.

This wasn’t the situation in China however where, ‘more than 80% of consumers used mobile payments last year’, according to the management consultancy Bain1. It now seems inevitable, however, that people’s image of cash being ‘dirty’ or ‘contaminated’ following the virus outbreak, will lead the switch to digital payments in much larger numbers.

Due to the pandemic, we are already witnessing large scale movement towards going cashless throughout the world. Peter Gordon, head of emerging payments at the U.S. Bank declared that, ‘Zelle, PayPal, and online banking could see a boost in online and digital payment methods’ 2 as a direct consequence of the virus.

Other countries are also actively pushing the move to biometric and digital payments, Denmark, for example, is encouraging customers to pay using contactless with signs and notifications placed throughout stores. Since the cards remain entirely personal to the holder and do not require contaminatory behaviors to transact, this move reduces the risk of touching hands which exists when exchanging cash too, not to mention the queues that can form at ATM machines.

The Move Towards Going Cashless Is Now Inevitable

It was not so long ago that we would have deemed the move to going cashless a dream, however global events and increases in technology have now made it inevitable. Countries such as Sweden are leading the way, with only 2% of their financial transactions now being conducted with cash3. Not only is the move towards a cashless society now inevitable, it actually needs to happen with some degree of urgency and consistency.