A Cashless America? Not Without Vastly Improved Security.

June 20, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

In 2016, it was easy to wonder just how long it would be until our own government decided to pull some arbitrary decision and turn our $50 and $100 bills into so much useless paper. While the fallout from the Indian decision is still being felt, the idea of such a thing going on in the United States likely wouldn’t be taken well, according to a new YouGov study.

The YouGov study immediately noted that 56 percent of adults found that mobile payments actually increased the chances of both fraud and theft, making these comparatively unsafe to use. Yet at the same time, fully 35 percent of adults believe that the United States will be completely cashless within the next 20 years.

A little hard to believe, perhaps, but not out of line; if 44 percent of adults don’t think mobile payments increase the chances for theft and fraud, it’s not exactly beyond imagining to get 36 percent of those adults to think that the US will go cashless in the interim.

Further, 72 percent of Americans still turn to cash for in-store purchases, and 60 percent claim to use cash at least once a week. That means a clearly ingrained habit alongside a massive mistrust of the mobile payment concept.

Not surprisingly, the results are skewed substantially by the over-55 crowd, who believes that mobile payments are a huge risk. While only nine percent of 18-24 year olds felt that way, and 16 percent of both 25-34 and 35-44 year olds agreed—17 percent for 45-54—a whopping 42 percent of over-55s felt that way.

Of course, that’s almost stereotypical to say that old people are commonly mistrustful of new technology. Yet these numbers make it clear that, for mobile payments, the older you are the greater the perceived risk. Without the over-55s, the perceived risk drops through the floor, which means that a cashless society may only come about without the over-55s in the field.

We’ll have a while to wait to see how it all comes out, but in the end, it’s only improved security that will make mobile payments a more widespread operation. There are simply too many users concerned about the risks for it not to be so.