WHAT IS A
A cashless society is an economic concept referring to how financial transactions occur. Digital currencies are exchanged rather than physical banknotes.
Nowadays, the exchange methods include mobile wallets (or e-wallets), mobile banks, cards (debit and credit), and gift certificates and vouchers.
This cashless society has a primitive counterpart: the barter system. During those times, people exchanged valuable materials with gold and other such kinds.
Today, if cash is king then, cashless payment is the queen. What we are in is a world that presently embraces a cashless society and its advantages. Since 2013, there is a dramatic increase in the number of cashless transactions. Some countries like Sweden are now considered a cashless society.
This is not to say that digital currencies will replace physical cash entirely. Though, this signals a much-needed and more inclusive digital transformation.
TYPES OF CASHLESS PAYMENTS
Today, several cashless payment systems make transactions more accessible and more convenient even without cash.
Credit and debit cards are traditionally used for cashless transactions globally. The use of these cards epitomizes convenience and security in the early days towards the transitioning to a cashless society.
One of the most significant benefits of having banking cards, particularly the international cashless payment solutions provider like MasterCard and Visa, is linking it to an existing digital payment application. After which, you can complete transactions through the card-linked app or e-wallet.
Speaking of e-wallets, the use of mobile wallets is increasingly popular. This cashless payment method is not only convenient and secured but also fast and accessible.
They work like bank accounts, allowing the users to send, receive, and store digital currencies. Users may send money to another e-wallet or through a phone number, email ID, unique reference number, or even a QR code.
The amount stored on a digital wallet can be easily converted into physical money with the withdraw features.
A QR (or quick response) code is commonly used for cashless payments. QR codes are two-dimensional patterns composed of black square patterns. An imaging device such as a smartphone camera scans the code to start the payment or transfer process.
QR codes are used in retail environments. This allows the consumers to complete any transaction even without cash on hand.
Contactless payments use RFID (radio frequency identification) technology. This technology utilizes radio frequency waves in transmitting data.
The process works with a point of sale (PoS) terminal wherein the users just need to tap the RFID card onto the reader. Cards contain a chip that works through near-field communication.
A smartphone may also work as a contactless payment when it is directly linked to a mobile wallet. The user must place the NFC-enabled phone near the reader to perform the transaction.
PoS terminals evolved from being a handheld device to a kiosk where all financial transactions can be coursed through, including mobile top-ups.
PoS features are also expanding. They now accept various modes of payment such as cash, card, digital currency, and even voucher codes. Self-service cashless systems also process bills payment, e-wallet top-ups, prepaid load, and loan payments.
Nowadays, cashless payment machines are noticeably bulky, but they are equipped with a navigable touchscreen, bill acceptor, card dispenser, QR and barcode scanner, and thermal printer.
Vouchers or coupons
Another payment method that is good as cashless payment is using vouchers, coupons, coupon codes, and gift cards. These are good as cash, though they are usually tied to a merchant.
Vouchers rarely provide for the entire amount of what the buyer intends to purchase. A voucher helps in completing the purchase, though. In some instances, coupons and coupon codes work as a discount.
ADVANTAGES OF CASHLESS PAYMENT
Cashless payment advantages abound.
The biggest advantage is the ultimate convenience of transacting digitally. You need not be physically present at a store when making a purchase, for instance. You are not forced to do deposits or withdrawals during banking hours when you also had to contend with your own office hours. You can transact whenever and wherever you want.
Furthermore, people need not carry wads of cash or cards or queue up for withdrawals at the ATM center. Digital transactions are a great option when you are traveling.
When convenience is a differentiating factor between businesses, no one can afford to compromise transaction speed. Users expect to complete transactions quickly or not as time-consuming as before. When they complete a process, they expect the transaction to be reflected in real-time. So that, if there are any errors, they can be corrected almost real-time too.
In leveraging fast, cashless transactions, businesses also enhance the productivity levels of each staff and, thus, the overall performance of the company. This leads to reduced waiting times and more processed transactions, about 5 to 15% more transactions hourly. This also means improved profitability for the business.
Enhanced customer satisfaction
While errors are inevitable, these are significantly reduced with cashless payments. Fewer errors and all other benefits that come with faster transactions can definitely lead to greater customer satisfaction.
Risks are costly—cashless payments can reduce risks and, thereby, costs effectively. Theft, robbery, and counterfeit money are minimized. In the same way, expenses needed to withdraw, transport, and count the cash are reduced. Every peso saved by a business is a peso saved by the consumers. For instance, processing costs are eliminated.
Improved cash flow
For the consumers, the entire process saves time and money—money that can be their saving. Savings help cut costs while also saving in terms of cashback and discounts. They can also take advantage of promos online when using digital payment. All these can help improve one’s cash flow marginally.
When visiting another country, you are required to buy the currency of that country. One of the benefits of cashless payment systems is performing transactions wherever you are, 24/7. This eliminates the need to exchange currencies, more so when you can transact directly from an application.
Robust economic data
Financial transactions must be recorded into one streamlined economic data. However, gathering real-world transactions is virtually impossible before. With cashless payment, every transaction is recorded. This allows the states to combat illegal transactions because economists and financial analysts can easily track the flow of money.
Budgetary leaks are critical to monitor because they can have a significant impact on the household budget. When every transaction is recorded at the individual level, it would be easier to track and reconcile them. People who need to scrutinize transactions to determine a household budget, for instance, can make an informed decision with the help of looking into the transaction history—the process aids in explaining their spends and whether to eliminate which particular expense.
Having a clear understanding of where your hard-earned money is being spent will result in better budgeting and minimize spending. Spending patterns can be easily tracked using mobile apps as well. Controlled expenditures can lead to empowered financial decisions such as investments.
Losing money to theft, robber, or any other way is an inconvenience no one wants to experience. This is especially true when you are abroad and had no one to turn to. Smartphones today can be considered as futuristic. One important feature that is crucial to becoming a cashless society is biometrics. Biometrics such as fingerprint and eye scans are very difficult to copy.
THE DANGERS OF CASHLESS PAYMENT
While there are several advantages, disadvantages or dangers of cashless payments are also inexisting.
Higher identity theft risks
No society is culturally attuned to cashless transactions—a steep learning curve is definitely involved. Naturally, those who are yet to acquaint themselves with modes of cashless transactions are at higher risk of falling into phishing and other online scams. That’s why identity theft can be rampant online. The same goes for online fraud such as hacking. Some hackers target the database containing sensitive information.
Some users skip the two-factor authentication, thinking what a hassle it could be and without knowing how this can add a layer of security. Regardless of the size and volume of your cashless transactions, it is wise to utilize this security feature.
Not to mention the redressal policies in the Philippines. People do not usually report fraudulent activities where they lost money because of how stringent the process. The scale of fraud is not necessarily a concern among the Filipinos, but the rigorous legal requirements and procedures.
Tends to exclude tech-unsavvy
To continue with the above, not everyone considers themselves techy. First, one has to navigate through dashboards. Older people may not know which icons to tap or buttons to click. Second, they may feel trapped within the process and get stuck in the middle of a critical transaction.
Adapting can be a challenge. Not to mention, some apps or web-based apps do not account for the knowledge level of their intended users. Other apps use jargons that make it difficult to understand. So, tech-unfriendly users may need more options when navigating an app to perform transactions.
Overreliance on smart devices
Cashless payments work best with a smartphone. Thereby, losing the smart device may mean putting oneself at risk of identity theft and losing crucial financial information. If you lose the phone while out and about, it can become a helpless situation. The problem escalates if you are abroad or too far from home with no one to turn to.
Another concern is the constant need to keep smart devices charged. You do not want the phone to die on you in the middle of an emergency or critical purchase.
This is a concern in a country like the Philippines, whose residents are mobile-first users. As of 2019, there were 74 million users, or about 57.6% of the population. In 2021, smartphone usage is at 68.41%.
Tendency to overspend
A cashless payment system is straightforwardly convenient. However, there are a plethora of temptations online that may lead to overspending. Eventually, you may find yourself in a spending trap that you cannot easily escape.
Behavioral finance experts claim a higher pain level associated with spending cash than buying using a credit card. The same applies to digital spending. Since the transactions are generally cashless, controlling spending can be a real challenge. This poses a threat to throw personal or household budgets into complete disarray.
Spending is a habit—one that is hard to break. But one has to cultivate the discipline to spend only when necessary.
HOW DO YOU GO
Technologies are ever-sophisticating, making smart devices a staple of Filipino homes. That’s why cashless payments have become more mainstream.
Cashless payments are increasingly embedded in businesses too. The health crisis of 2020 accelerated the worldwide shift to cashless transactions. Digital payments grew by 24% in 2020, or about $4.9 trillion. It only means initiating payments digitally has never been this fast, easy, and convenient.
Skeptics would say that a truly cashless society is nowhere near materialization—nevertheless, a foremost cashless payment purveyor such as eTap. Thanks to devices and terminals, cashless payments are now highly feasible.
eTap offers payment infrastructures and solutions that can assist Filipinos in their cashless journey. The company provides self-service machines built for service, contributing to the radical move towards making the Philippines a cashless society.
This is in line with the Philippine government’s initiative to make the country a cashless society. This, too, was motivated by the full awareness of how the coronavirus, for instance, lives on banknotes for up to 28 days.
Based on the projections drafted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Philippines could become a cashless society by 2025. BSP itself is expecting to complete 50% of its financial transactions digitally by 2023.
The first initiative to roll out is adopting the National Quick Response (QR) Code Standard. Such standard aims to boost financial inclusion, particularly in a country whose unbanked population is higher than the banked population by a significant margin. To wit, in 2019, 28.6% of the Filipinos are banked, which means there are about 71.4% who remained unbanked.
Reaching the underbanked and unbanked
Penetrating the underbanked and unbanked are paramount to the transition towards becoming a cashless society.
As more and more Filipinos seek out cashless options while moving away from a cash-based society, there is a need to eliminate barriers to inclusion. Cashless payment terminals present an opportunity to increase these people’s financial participation. Businesses need to deploy these terminals on their premises for these reasons.
Creating an opportunity for the emerging middle class
Increasing the Filipinos’ access to financial services taps into the further development and participation of middle-class families. Transactions completed through self-service kiosks are both accessible and affordable.
These machines provide a safe environment for doing business with or without a bank account. This process alone helps in reducing or breaking the cycle of poverty.
Connecting to an emerging market
There is a unique opportunity for the Filipino people. The underbanked or unbanked have access to a smartphone. This access can help in alleviating non-inclusion. With the use of their apps, banking technologies allow citizens to create accounts without going to the branch.
Digital wallets are commonly used today, allowing deposits and withdrawals. All these activities enable the people to have deeper engagement.
Learn more about how eTap is front and center in the Philippines’ transition toward a cashless society. We offer cashless payment terminals deployable inside various premises. Get in touch with us to know more.