Why do we need a cashless society

Coinless happy : Do we still need cash?

“Money is shaped freedom.” The Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky already knew that. Most Germans should nod in agreement at this quote: in almost 80 percent of the cases they still pay with bills or coins - not with cards. The Germans are now reacting accordingly skeptically to the Federal Government's attempt to introduce a cash limit. Is that the beginning of the end of cash? Efforts were made on Wednesday in the Federal Ministry of Finance to emphasize that they basically wanted to hold onto cash. But an end to the coins and bills is not entirely absurd. Countries like Sweden and Denmark have long been on the way to a cashless future. And in Germany too, economists and bankers are debating the sense and nonsense of cash.

Peter Bofinger's economy is an avowed opponent of notes and coins. Last year he sparked outrage across Germany when he said that cash was an anachronism - long out of date. His main argument: Without notes and coins, moonlighting would hardly be possible. If you employ a cleaning lady in black, you could only pay her in kind at most.

Deutsche Bank boss Cryan also wants to abolish cash

He gets support from the head of Deutsche Bank. At the World Economic Forum, John Cryan recently proposed that cash will disappear completely in the next ten years. "Cash is terribly expensive and inefficient," said Cryan. That sounds surprising from the mouth of a banker. Behind this, however, there is a clear self-interest. Because the banks would be among the winners in a world without cash. In this way, they could enforce what was previously unthinkable: negative interest on savings. The German institutes don't dare to do it yet. Only corporate customers already pay on it when they have large sums in their account. Private individuals, on the other hand, feared the bankers, could withdraw their money if they were to pay for the safekeeping. The abolition of cash would be a solution: Without notes and coins, consumers would no longer be able to avoid negative interest rates.

For this reason, the economist Hans-Werner Sinn speaks out vehemently against the abolition of coins and notes. "As long as there is cash, you can protect yourself from such exploitation," he says. Today you can still put your money under your pillow in case of doubt. In the Bundesbank, too, people think little of abolishing cash. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann believes that people should decide for themselves whether to pay with bills and coins.

In Kleve, dealers are selling one-cent and two-cent coins

Accordingly, he is likely to be interested in what is happening in Kleve in North Rhine-Westphalia. There the local dealer community dares to experiment: They do without one- and two-cent pieces. It's a little bit of a cash exit. The copper-colored cents have become a nuisance for the dealers in Kleve. Because very few Germans dig them out at the cash register, the majority of them disappear into their pockets and piggy banks. In order to still have enough change on hand, the traders have to ensure regular supplies. But a roll with 50 cents costs 30 to 50 cents, which the banks add to the pure value of the coins. After all, the institutes have to procure, test and roll the coins - an effort that they can afford to pay for.

Because the dealers no longer want to take part, they simply sort out the one- and two-cent pieces and round off the prices. "In the end we make it easier for everyone," says Christof Dammers, who runs a sports shop in Kleve. The customer has fewer coins in his wallet - the dealers save the fees for the rolls of money. The Klever copied it in the Netherlands. For years, prices have been rounded up to zero or five cents in order to ban the smallest coins.

Sweden relies on cashless payments

And that's still harmless. Other countries go much further. Sweden is gradually getting rid of cash completely. The Scandinavians have found solutions to make cashless payments even in the most absurd places. The sellers of the homeless newspaper in Sweden carry card readers with them. The collections in the church are donated by credit card.

However, it is questionable whether this can be a role model for Germany. The German citizens love their notes and coins. A third of German citizens even only use cash. In a survey on tagesspiegel.de, 90 percent of readers recently spoke out against the abolition of cash. In addition, there is still not the necessary infrastructure in this country to do without notes and coins. Germans can usually only pay small amounts in cash. Whether the bakery, the newspaper kiosk or the kebab shop: Many small retailers do not have a card reader because it is too expensive for them to use - and, unlike large chains, they cannot beat the card industry. For retailers too, cash means one thing above all else: freedom.

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