The Irish are – per capita – leading the globe towards a cashless system. Unfortunately for us, this might not be a good thing

Irish business and consumers alike are more cashless than ever thanks to the latter’s expectations of commerce. The fact is cash is diminishing as a payment method globally, and indeed Ireland might just be the number one nation employing digital payments within the next few years. By all credible accounts, Sweden currently carries the title of the world’s most cashless society based on GDP, but adoption in Ireland is continuing apace. 

When it comes to future predictions of which nation will emerge as the one most at home with cashless payments, uptake rates and practical application are key, and Ireland is at the forefront. This has produced some interesting (and challenging) scenarios for business at large, and there’s a palpable perception that so-called ‘old school’ business practices – especially in retail – are going to lose or are already losing customers if they’re not implementing digital payment methods.

Cashless convenience is a ‘sidegrade’ for Irish business

Rather than a downgrade (losing tech, capacity or the ability to service clients) or an upgrade (spending extensively on rebuilding customer management systems from scratch), going cashless for Irish businesses is a ‘sidegrade.’ In other words, the ‘problem’ of going cashless in business is a nice problem to solve. For those businesses taking the plunge, it’s relatively easy to effect and a continuous joy to use thereafter. After all, it implies doing less – no cash box, drop safe, or banking of cash; and it removes the prospect of being swindled with counterfeit or robbed when carrying cash.

Oddly enough, it’s often very large and very small businesses that still need to enact a cashless option. Furthermore, specific sectors or industries tend to lean towards cashless payments or, on the other hand, lag in their implementation. Retail is the most seamless in application, being the coalface for interaction with consumers. That said, B2B transactions often quickly adopt modern consumer conveniences, too. As any IT company in London, Dublin, or New York can attest, implementing systems to render cashless transactions is a regular and growing component of their daily work. For example, UK cash payments have dipped from above 60 percent in the noughties to around 40 percent today. If this trend continues, only around 20 percent of payments will be cash in the country by 2030. Ireland might race ahead a little, being predominantly cashless within five years.

Are there really advantages for a cashless business?

The short answer is yes. 

Whatever the reasons driving cashless transacting – if you offer it, you’re not alienating potential clients. As cashless payments become increasingly commonplace, any business (especially those dealing with consumers) will want to offer the facility of doing so to avoid losing sales. With online shopping being the flagship that’s driving expectations around purchases, consumers are used to super-fast and hassle-free buying.

Adding cashless payment options provides needed and good diversity, rather than the typical ‘fluff’ businesses often add on to themselves when jostling in the marketplace. It’s easy to see how in the next decade or two, every retailer – from the local newsstand to SuperValu – will likely offer all payment options possible, and this will become the norm and standard expectation. Remember when online shopping was a dangerously unfamiliar arena and involved waiting up to three weeks for delivery? Commerce has been working furiously to narrow that gap, and has done so fairly successfully by (partly) driving the swing to cashless transacting. 

Amazon might be the epitome, launching a drone to ship goods speedily, but they’re nothing if not indicative of the consumer service ethic that’s pushing businesses all over the globe. That push seems symbiotic with being cashless and helps to inform it. Some obvious commercial beneficiaries of a cashless economy would be restaurants and those in hospitality who no longer need to keep cash on the premises late at night. Any business with a busy supply chain needed to produce its product or service could win back several hours in their day, too, and all businesses that see large volume will see their insurance premiums dip if there’s no cash on premises.

The significant benefit to all business is that mobile, digital payment potentially provides plenty of customer data to use at your discretion (within GDPR guidelines, of course). Not only will it deliver what payment option they prefer, but what they bought, how often they’re in-store, what they’re buying and how much their overall spend is. That’s meaty intel for any marketer, and will go towards refining presentation and ultimately the consumer experience. As a wholly immersed generation carries their digital acumen into their daily lives, more businesses will need to offer cashless options in order to serve the majority coming through the doors.

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.

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