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Towards a Cashless Society

24 Nov

When the first credit card was introduced in 1946, and the debit card in 1978, the world began its transition to a cashless society. Fast forward to today and the use of these cards has grown significantly.Today, 15 per cent of transactions carried out worldwide are cashless, pointing to the increasing popularity of pre-paid, debit and credit cards as an acceptable means of payment in day-to-day transactions. Cash has long been a mainstay in business transactions dating back to the days of gold and silver coins, way way back in time. Wealth was associated with the amount of gold one possessed, which still holds true but who would actually want to move around with 300 ounces of gold coins chingling in an awkward pouched tied to your waist like an uncut umbilical cord. The world evolved from there, the gold was too much to carry, the weight was burdensome and so we had cash. Pieces of special paper that took the place of that heavy metal and made us feel supreme. We stored the gold away in vaults and safes and other places unimaginable and we had this thing called cash. Cash and carry it was, light and easy it was to drop and not feel a thing. Wallets and purses then became popular. This continued for the best part of 2 centuries, with all the hiccups, torn money, dirty money, eve dirtier money, lost money, not enough money and the dreaded rapid inflation resulting in tonnes of worthless notes being used to buy a loaf of bread. The poor people of the Weimer Republic and those poor souls in Zimbabwe who carried bags of cash to buy the smallest of groceries. This cash thing has got to go. Is there really a need to be flaunting cash that can easily be relieved of your company by unscrupulous individuals brandishing balaclavas and stolen police issued pistols. We are moving towards a society where we do not have to carry cash, which will increase safety of citizens tenfold. Face it it will be a long time coming before robbers target our cards and phones. Indications are there, they started early. For Kenya’s middle and upper classes, the reality of a cashless society is something that has become part of everyday life, as evidenced by the results of a survey by the Central Bank of Kenya indicating that cashless transactions grew 83 per cent to Sh386 .6 billion in the first half of 2012 from Sh211.2 billion recorded during the same period in 2011. This is the future, a cashless economy is one in which the purchase of goods and services and the payment of debts and remittances are done through electronic money media, either through credit and debit cards, direct transfers from one account to another, smart cards, mobile payment systems, and other technologies. Now 27 per cent of Kenyan consumers prefer to pay for goods and services using electronic payment methods as opposed to the traditional cash payment system. According to a MasterCard Survey, consumer preference and programs aimed at encouraging electronic payment systems will make Kenya more attractive to business people. This is the new scenario where a husband working in Nairobi can send money home to the countryside with a couple of taps on his mobile phone. His wife can cash out at the increasingly ubiquitous shops with M-Pesa agents—the number of agents across the country increased 40 percent in 2013to more than 65,000—and she can also leave the money on her device to make digital payments with the hundreds of businesses who accept them. Kenya is on the road to becoming a cashless economy through use of electronic payment systems. MasterCard Worldwide has partnered with Equity Bank to issue five million chip enabled debit and prepaid cards for use as a way to pay for goods and services as opposed to using cash.



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