Becoming a cashless society; is it a bad idea?

Weekend Extra

It’s never been easier to go cash free.

Pay a bill at a restaurant, catch a cab, or send money to a friend with just a push of a button

Peer-to-peer payment services are exploding. 

“10’s of millions are using this every year and growing very fast,” said Tobie Stranger, Consumer Reports.

Experts say going cash-free can be a smart financial move. Consumers are better able to track their spending and make good choices.

“I’m always able to track my receipts and my expenditures really easily with my credit cards,” said Craig Wasilewsky. “I mean literally cent for cent I know what I’m spending and I’m not losing change every single day.”

And it is not just consumers who are shifting away from paper money. Businesses are also jumping on this trend.

Hill Country BBQ shifted to cash-free in August. The restaurant said that less than 7-percent of their customers were using paper money. Hill Country said they’re now more efficient, serving their customers faster which makes for a better dining experience.

The cash-free way is part of a growing trend. Sweetgreen, a popular salad chain in the DC area does not accept cash. Jetties sandwich shop is another place that only takes credit cards. 

“It’s much more efficient and easy to manage electronic payment systems in this day and age than having to deal with cash and electronic payments,” said Vanessa Perry, Professor of Marketing, George Washington University School of Business. 

Safety is another big reason restaurants said they are going cash free. No cash means nothing for thieves to run off with.

But experts warn about the people who may be left behind. The so-called “unbanked” consumers. 

A 2015 federal survey – the most recent – found that 7-percent of American households had no checking or savings accounts. It’s more than twice as high for African-Americans and Latinos.

There are efforts to try and address this issue. Legislation has been introduced in Washington, Chicago and Philadelphia that would ban restaurants and businesses from going cash-free. 

And while this trend is booming sometimes you just need cold hard cash.

“I really am a big advocate of tipping housekeepers, and people that help you,” said Maryanne Smith. “So, I love cash for that reason.”

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