Subscribe to our email alerts

Beyond the Transaction: Every Transaction Has a Story

How the Race to a Cashless Society is Shaping Up

Only fitting given the global jamboree of sport that is taking place in London this month, that we reflect on one of the lesser reported races going on right now: the cashless society sprint.

Here is how some of the main players are lining up:

Lane 1: Norway

Altinn (“all in”), introduced in 2004, is a so-called point of single contact for small- and medium-sized businesses. Withdrawals from minibanks in Norway have fallen by 25 per cent over the last five years, and 11 per cent of Norwegians do not carry any cash at all.

Lane 2: South Korea

As the leading Asian nation in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s E-payments Adoption Ranking/ in 5th rank, Korea launched a world first: a single center processing for the mobile phone transactions for all of the banks in the country. 

Lane 3: Sweden

A nation widely touted as the first to reach an all-out cashless society. Bills and coins now represent only 3 percent of Sweden’s economy.

Lanes 4 & 5: Singapore & Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Singapore both have personalized portals – MyGovHK and mGov@SG – through which citizens enjoy integrated access to various government service accounts and information.

Lane 6: US

In 2009, more than 75 percent of all US non-cash payments were made electronically – up a huge 9.3 percent since 2006, according to a 2010 Federal Reserve study.

Lane 7: Australia

In Australia payments are handled electronically at AusTender, which allows for e-payment distribution and settlement. It also provides a centralised publication of Australian government business opportunities, annual procurement plans, multi-use lists and contracts awarded.

Lane 8: Nigeria

Nigeria’s Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introducing a ‘cash handling charge earlier this year on daily cash withdrawals or cash deposits that exceed N500,000 ($3,100) for individuals and N3,000,000 ($18,610) for corporate bodies.

It looks like a close race. But who do you think will win?


/Research taken from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s E-payments Adoption Ranking 2011