Global Study Highlights Economic Benefits of ‘Cashless Cities’

October 11, 2017         By: Payment Week

San Francisco, CAOCTOBER 11, 2017 — Visa (NYSE: V)  announced today the results of an independent study conducted by Roubini ThoughtLab  and commissioned by Visa examining the economic impact of increasing the use of digital payments in major cities around the world. The study estimates that relying more on electronic payments, such as cards and mobile payments, could yield a net benefit of up to U.S. $470 billion per year across the 100 cities studied – roughly the equivalent to 3% of the average GDP for these cities.

Cashless Cities: Realizing the Benefits of Digital Payments”, is a unique study that quantifies the potential net benefits experienced by cities which move to an “achievable level of cashlessness”—defined as the entire population of a city moving to digital payment usage equal to the top 10% of users in that city today.  The study does not look at eliminating cash.  Rather, it seeks to quantify the potential benefits and costs of significantly increasing the use of digital payments.

By reducing reliance on cash, the study estimates the immediate and long-term benefits for three main groups—consumers, businesses and governments. According to the study, these benefits could add up to combined direct net benefits of approximately U.S. $470 billion across the 100 cities that were analyzed:

  • Consumers across the 100 cities could achieve nearly $28 billion per year in estimated direct net benefits. This impact would be derived from factors including up to 3.2 billion hours in time savings conducting banking, retail and transit transactions, in addition to a reduction in cash-related crime.
  • Businesses across the 100 cities could achieve more than $312 billion per year in estimated direct benefits. This impact would derived from factors including up to 3.1 billion hours in time savings processing incoming and outgoing payments and increased sales revenues stemming from extended online and in-store customer bases. The study also found that accepting cash and checks costs businesses 7.1 cents of every dollar received compared to 5 cents of every dollar collected from digital sources.
  • Governments across the 100 cities could achieve nearly $130 billion per year in estimated direct benefits. This impact would be derived from factors including increased tax revenues, increased economic growth, cost savings from administrative efficiencies and lower criminal justice costs due to reduced cash-related crime.

“This study demonstrates the substantial upside for consumers, businesses and governments as cities move toward greater adoption of digital payments,” said Ellen Richey, Visa’s vice chairman and chief risk officer. “Societies that substitute digital payments for cash see benefits from greater economic growth, less crime, more jobs, higher wages, and increased worker productivity.”

As cities increase use of digital payments, the positive impacts can extend beyond financial benefits to consumers, businesses, and government. The shift to digital payments also may have a catalytic effect on the city’s overall economic performance, including GDP, employment, wage, and productivity growth.