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Spain and the Eurozone won't ditch the cash – even though they mostly could
02 March 2020 @ 18:05

AS MORE and more European countries dispense with notes and coins, and debit and credit card payments become more widely accepted, one wonders if physical currency could become extinct within a generation. After all, Denmark has floated the idea of stopping minting cash; in the UK, bank transfers are usually free of charge and instant, meaning if you owe someone a tenner you can just dump it in their account – or use PayPal, which is extremely safe and comfortable and only needs both parties to have an email address. It's perfectly possible to go for a full-length holiday in Iceland and never see the currency: you can pay for a chocolate bar with your card. Add to this the increasing number of banks offering mobile phone payment Apps, where you just place your handset above the card machine, or even your SmartWatch, and it does seem the need for money you can hold in your hand is lessening by the year. It could, in fact, go the same way cheque books have in the last 20 years: becoming, if not obsolete, certainly very rare and a lot of hassle.

Or will it?


Why cash costs

In Spain, the main barrier to shops and bars accepting card payments has been the fact that their banks charged so much in commission for these that it was not worth their while unless the transaction was fairly hefty – retailers and restaurateurs were going to lose some of the money they charged for their goods or services. But increasingly, banks are making it easier and cheaper for their commercial clients to take card payments.

And even getting paid in cash still costs. You have to pay security companies to transport the money; employees or owners carrying it in person to the bank put their safety at risk, and could easily lose a whole day's takings in a mugging or if they lose their handbags. Hold-ups at petrol stations and shops can mean having to hand over all you earn that day for the sake of your safety. Staff members run the risk of being accused of theft if the till contents do not add up, or if they are robbed on the way to the bank, and the terror and guilt felt if an employee loses the company money bag whilst transporting the cash is extremely stressful; indeed, less-understanding bosses may even make them pay it back out of their wages.


But some prefer cash – here's why

But cash can still have uses that debit cards and the like do not provide. If you're slipping a note into someone's birthday card, it looks more 'present-like' than scrawling on it that you've put the same amount into their current account.



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