A World Without Cash?

  Sweden is on its way to being cash-free, with cash accounting for only 3% of the Swedish economy.

Admittedly, I have a romantic’s view of coins and cash (those are my own coins in the photo on the left). I love foreign currency (so colorful!) and my two boys, ages 5 and 7, are avid coin collectors. So it’s with a mixture of sadness and fascination that I ponder a cash-free America.

As mentioned in the above-linked article in the Christian Science Monitor, banks in Sweden are expected to unveil a service allowing customers to transfer money amongst each other via cell phones. While we in the U.S. of A. appear to be more fond of cash than our friends across the Atlantic, it cannot be denied that the variety of methods of payment are expanding in interesting ways.

Fiserv/CashEdge offers popmoney, allowing customers at participating banks to send and receive money directly via their bank’s website or mobile app. Participating banks include Bank of the West, Ally, Citibank and PNC. Fiserv recently partnered with Moneygram International, allowing the customers of these banks to send money instantly all over the world. This service is “especially helpful for the underbanked who may not have ready access to a bank location”.

Movenbank is working to bring the future here and now,  functioning as a cardless bank looking to ditch both cash and plastic:

Within a couple of years, contactless payments will all be pretty much standard. Already you can use a contactless card or your mobile phone to pay at places like Best Buy, Walmart, CVS, GAP, McDonalds… and hundreds of thousands more locations. Movenbank works just the same as your existing debit or credit card, it’s just that you don’t need to swipe anything, you just touch your phone to the point-of-sale and the transaction is initiated.

Is the system perfect? As security concerns about Google Wallet linger, I think it’s safe to say no. However, as P2P and mobile technology grows, it will only get better. Financial institutions that seek to truly meet the needs of their customer base cannot stand idly by.

Bank Director‘s own Al Dominick summed it up best, I think, just a few months ago:

…a bank’s board would be well served to explore how the institution is currently meeting the needs of its consumers and consider how offering new mobile products and services can support its goals.

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