Paper money continues to be the dominant medium of exchange for global commerce. But executives at MasterCard can already see a cashless future on the horizon. We asked Carlos Menendez, Group Executive, Global Debit, to explain.
Do you think cash will always play a prominent role in society, or are its days numbered?
CM: The world is definitely migrating toward a cashless society, as more people recognize the advantages of electronic payments over paper-based payments. And it’s an increasingly easy sell, particularly among younger generations. ”¨”¨Cash is inefficient; expensive to print, transport and secure; and costly to society. Yet 85 percent of the world’s transactions are still conducted with cash or check, so there are enormous opportunities to close that gap and advance our vision of “A World Beyond Cash.”
Many MasterCard employees are taking the “cashless” challenge. Tell us about that.
CM: We launched an internal “Month Without Cash” program last year in our European region as a way to challenge our employees to commit to living cash-free, both in their work and personal lives. Hundreds of MasterCard employees across Europe accepted this challenge, and collectively, we discovered that it’s possible to live without cash in today’s world for all but about 15 percent of purchases. Many of us also discovered how much easier, safer and more convenient it is to live a cash-free life.
Now we’re extending the challenge into other regions, including the US, Latin America, Canada, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
Beyond our role as MasterCard employees, each of us is also a consumer, and this challenge has been a great way to experience first-hand the benefits, challenges, opportunities and roadblocks that exist for our cardholders. Plus it’s spawning some friendly competition among regions, which has been really fun.
Have you yourself tried the cashless challenge? How long were you able to go?
CM: Yes, I participated, but you might say I had a healthy head start, as I’ve been living nearly cash-free for quite a while (my biggest challenge being taxis in many parts of the world).