Will we see a cashless society by 2023? (2024)

The first truly cashless society could be a reality by 2023, according to a new report from global consultancy A.T. Kearney

In just five years, we could be living in the very first truly cashless society. The nation leading this revolution? Sweden, whichtheResilience, Replacement and Renewable report, published on 27 September, said would be the first country running solely on digital and card payments. This, it said, is a result of cash payments in the country "decreasing fast" - in 2016, for example, only 15% of all retail transactions were paid for with cash; in 2010, this figure was 40%.

A.T. Kearney found that cashless transactions have "increased substantially" off the back of the proliferation of contactless payments and mobile payments solutions such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. These, it said, are expected to continue to grow year-on-year by more than 21% in emerging markets and 7% in developed markets by 2021 (see below for more information).

Will we see a cashless society by 2023? (1)


The report presents analysis from countries worldwide. In China, cash made up for only 15% of all payments made through "dominant" mobile payment applications such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, whereas only 45% of all payments made in Russia last year were completed through cashless transactions. On emerging markets, the report identified Rwanda's setting a goal of being cashless by 2024 and South Korea by 2020.

Shifting consumer behaviour

This trends, says A.T. Kearney represents the wider ongoing evolution in consumer behaviour, which it addressed in a previous report, Retail Banking Radar 2019.Here, the consultancy analyses data from close to 100 banks across Europe, finding that one in 10 banks will no longer be in business due to customers using digital banking services like Starling Bank or Monzo. This trend, it says, will drive the shift to a cashless society at pace resulting in significant change in the financial sector.

Global Head of Financial Services at the consultancy said that the global economy is "increasingly powered by digital transactions", adding that over the next few years "the world will see the first truly cashless economies". This he said, "represents an enormous opportunity for banks, but for those established in the days when cash was king, it will require some tough and astute strategic decisions to ensure they thrive in a cashless society."

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Will we see a cashless society by 2023? (2024)


How long until we are a cashless society? ›

Physical currency isn't becoming obsolete any time soon, so it's important to weigh up your options before deciding to go fully cashless in 2024. Ensuring you can accept some cashless payments though, is essential to keeping with today's trends and customer expectations.

Is the US heading to a cashless society? ›

The US is moving toward cashless payments, with a substantial increase in the use of mobile wallet apps and contactless cards. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that payments made using cash accounted for just 18% of all US payments in 2022.

Will cash disappear in 2023? ›

Although paper-based currencies are becoming less popular, they will likely stick around for the foreseeable future. Dollars and cents may become harder to use, but as with many obsolete technologies, there are enough users to ensure demand doesn't disappear completely.

Is cash being phased out? ›

This author says that's a false narrative. If it's been a long time since you pulled out actual dollars and coins to pay for something — here's a conversation for you. It might seem like cash is slowly becoming obsolete. But, Brett Scott says it's a false narrative that we're all pining for a cashless society.

Will we have cash in 2025? ›

One widely quoted report predicts that the global transition from cash to digital will reach a tipping-point in 2025, and the pandemic, in which contactless payments surged, has only exacerbated this trend.

Why we will never go cashless? ›

In an economy with cash and cashless working together, when the latter is unavailable, people can continue to make essential purchases using cash. A cashless society would rely on a complex network of digital systems, which would be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Will a cashless society happen? ›

Is the cashless society really coming? Despite the rapid development of convenient, seamless digital payment methods, the 100 per cent cashless society remains a distant prospect. Cash is a trusted, reliable and essentially secure way to spend, and still adds up when it comes to straightforward everyday budgeting.

Which country is going cashless? ›

Norways is the most cashless country, with only around 2% of payments being made by cash, and 100% of the population having a bank account.

What would happen if the US went cashless? ›

While a cashless system would likely make it easier to track the transactions and freeze the accounts of certain criminals, the lack of an easy, cash alternative would likely push many larger criminal organizations into offshore banking, Bitcoin-style currencies, and other sophisticated digital tricks that would make ...

Is China cashless? ›

China is one of the top countries for using cashless payment systems, but penetration is not 100%,” says Sara Hsu, an associate professor at the University of Tennessee, specialising in supply chain management. “Elderly Chinese still often prefer to pay with cash and some struggle with using mobile payments.”

Is the digital dollar going to happen? ›

10 Years of Decentralizing the Future

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are coming, but a digital dollar is unlikely in the near term, Bank of America (BAC) said in a report on Monday.

How do you prepare for a cashless society? ›

Three steps for banks to prepare for a cashless world
  1. Invest in integrated payment solutions to help meet merchants' digital-first needs. ...
  2. Expand to adjacent areas to provide more “money management” capabilities. ...
  3. Explore the viability of new payment flows.

Why are they trying to stop cash? ›

Why Eliminate Cash? Cash can be used in criminal activities such as money laundering and tax evasion because it is difficult to trace. Digital transactions or electronic money create an audit trail for law enforcement and financial institutions and can aid governments in economic policymaking.

Which banks are going to digital dollars? ›

The pilot will test how banks using digital dollar tokens in a common database can speed up payments. Participating banks include BNY Mellon, Citi, HSBC, Mastercard, PNC Bank, TD Bank, Truist, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

Will the future of cash disappear? ›

By 2025, cash payments might drop by 20%, but they're far from disappearing.

Which country will be the first cashless society? ›

According to GlobalData, if there is any country with the potential to jump to first place within a couple of years and become a truly cashless society, it is Sweden. About 80 per cent of Swedes use a card to pay for purchases.

Who suffers in a cashless society? ›

Who is at risk of cashless? Those who live in the country where poor internet connectivity could stop payments. Poor people who rely on cash to ensure that they budget properly. Anyone in an abusive relationship who may lose financial independence without access to cash.

Are we ready for cashless economy? ›

Is India Ready for a Cashless Economy? The government's initiatives have contributed to equipping people to leverage several fintech solutions over the years. But although India has achieved significant progress towards going completely digital, we still have a long way to go.


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