Q & A
Cash isn't going away. Here's why.
The Current State of Cash
According to the Federal Reserve, there is over $2.4 trillion in cash in circulation in the U.S. today. Cash accounts for over 80% of all transactions worldwide. The need for legal tender remains high in a variety of settings, including small retail shops, convenience stores, and environments where tipping is common. Cash has proven resilient despite threats over the years from a variety of alternatives, including credit and debit cards, online payment systems, and digital wallets.
Maintaining a cash option has already generated widespread public support across the country. Within the past two years, the state of New Jersey, and cities including Washington, D.C. Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New York City all have enacted laws protecting a consumer's right to use cash.
Paying with cash:
is something everyone can do regardless of income or status.
is essential for consumers who don't have bank accounts or credit cards.
provides more privacy than other forms of payment.
limits the risk of data breaches.
helps consumers budget and teach children financial responsibility.
What are the costs of not accepting cash?
The business and societal costs of not accepting cash are many and significant. Refusing to accept cash discriminates against the millions of unbanked and underbanked Americans who at any given time are able to pay for goods and services only with cash. Eliminating cash would remove a vital lifeline for these individuals and families. At the same time, removing the option to pay with cash would impose upon consumers card fees or other EFT fees in every single transaction, while also dramatically restricting payment choice for those consumers.
Eliminating cash also would mean a significant loss of consumers’ privacy, and increased exposure of consumers to both card fraud and identity theft. In addition, businesses that refuse cash would face the loss of customers who have no other way to pay. Moreover, without the option to pay with cash, both businesses and consumers would lose the valuable safety net that allows them to continue to do business when digital transactions become impossible because the power is out, or service is unavailable as a result of unavoidable natural disasters, network outages, or other systems failures.
A cashless world also would deprive families of an important tool in budgeting family and personal spending and teaching financial responsibility to our children. For the nation, the loss of universal acceptance of U.S. currency at home would threaten a loss in the global perception of the strength and power of the world’s reserve currency - the U.S. Dollar. Cash remains a vital payment option, safety net, and store of value that must be maintained, nurtured, and preserved as such for the foreseeable future as a matter of sound public policy.