The Swiss push back on cashless

Unlike its distant Norwegian neighbours, the Swiss aren’t yet sold on the “cashless” thing.

Driving the news: Swiss voters will decide whether the government should have to keep hard cash in circulation even as digital payments gain currency. The group leading the charge worries about the government having too much information on citizens’ spending. 

Why it matters: Canada is racing towards its own cashless future, with banknotes and coins expected to make up just 3% of all transactions by 2025. The Swiss referendum shows there is a small but vocal resistance movement that could slow down the cashless advance.

Canadians were already early adopters of cashless tech, a trend that shot up by 13% in 2020 as the pandemic made people warier about touching shared surfaces. Shoppers also love the convenience of tapping their cards, phones, and smartwatches to pay at checkout.

  • There are benefits beyond efficiency. “If you don’t have cash, no one’s gonna rob you, the employees cannot take away the cash and defraud the store,” explained one economics professor.

Yes, but: The cashless trend annoys some small business owners who would rather go cash-only to avoid transaction fees, and threatens to exclude people who don’t have easy access to financial services, such as those in remote communities and who are homeless.