7 Reasons Why Cash Is Crucial for All

Talk of a cashless society persists despite surveys, including the Cardtronics 2017 Health of Cash Study, concluding that cash has formed a durable and enduring bond with consumers. The study found that nine out of 10 consumers continue to use cash along with other payment methods, and over 60 percent get upset when establishments don’t accept cash – and that’s regardless of their preferred way to pay. 

Just talk about going cashless to workers who depend on tips. They firmly stand behind the consumers having the freedom to choose and use cash!

Why does this matter? Because the data shows that cash, in all its simplicity, is the most inclusive form of payment, and there’s a large group of people who rely on cash for their daily needs. Unlike high-tech apps and other digital methods, cash is accessible to all demographics. 

Consider these seven types of workers or situations that rely on cash:

1. The "unbanked." In roughly nine million U.S. households, or 7 percent of the U.S. population, no one has a checking or savings account. a 2015 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. survey found.  These households - comprising 15.6 million adults and 7.6 milliion children - rely on cash because they are far less likely to have access to a smartphone.  The introduction of a cashless society could potentially shift these individuals into a new underclass, driving the digital divide.   Without access to mobile apps or payment cards, they will be unable to partake in more sectors of the economy, possibly missing out on opportunties to better their circumstances.

2. The "underbanked."  The FDIC also estimated that 19.9 percent of U.S. households - composed of 51.1 million adults and 16.3 million children - had a mainstream account at an insured institution but also used alternative and often costly financial services for other needs such as loans.  What's more, the FDIC data found even higher percentages of African-American (31 percent) and Hispanic (29 percent) households to be underbanked, and therefore having less access to non-cash payment methods.

3. Service employees, taxi drivers and salon workers. Apartment building doormen and other building staff, restaurant and fast-food servers, bussers and wine stewards; food delivery drivers; casino dealers; bellhops, baggage porters and valets; bar managers and bartenders; and cruise ship stewards and travel guides typically rely on cash tips to supplement hourly and annual wages. They rank in the millions, and this reliance on cash for tips rings true for taxi drivers and salon workers as well. While passengers increasingly can pay their fare with a card or app, most cab drivers still receive cash tips, and prefer it stay that way. In addition, hair stylists, manicurists and massage therapists count on cash tips to enhance what they’re paid by their salon.

4. Entertainers. Musicians often rely on cash tips to supplement their regular earnings.

5. House movers. Moving crews invariably receive a cash tip as well as the agreed-on moving payment.

6. Hotel chambermaids, room service porters and washroom attendants. Cash tips for their services are still very common, even though hotel guests often put the cost of meals on their room tab.

7. Golf caddies, ski and other sports instructors. Noncash payments made to them for their services remain uncommon. This may be due to lack of payment and communications infrastructure. Or may be simply that the anonymity of cash is preferred to the public spectacle of Venmo when paying a stranger. 

For the millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans, a cashless society would leave them practically unable to participate in the economy, with little-to-no-ability to shop, eat and bank on an equal footing. As for the countless workers who depend on tips, cash is crucial to their livelihood today – and will continue to be tomorrow. 

Furthermore, businesses that refuse to accept cash are forgetting the impact these groups could have on their bottom line. People who depend on cash by necessity or by choice will take their physical dollars elsewhere where they will be accepted as a form of payment. 

In short, businesses that don’t accept cash are leaving money on the table.

To ensure financial inclusion for all, it’s crucial that retailers, restaurants, governmental agencies and consumers alike come together to make certain that cash is accessible and always accepted as a form of currency for all Americans, regardless of income level or occupation.

Tom Pierce
Chief Marketing Officer

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