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11 March 2013Gareth Lodge
Last week, this short piece caught my eye. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UQHGoUF2RkY It’s perhaps a little easy to say “how very Dutch” and move on. But it does highlight some interesting differences. It’s a piece about the Foundation Promoting Efficient Payments rewarding retailers & customers for their efforts to go cashless. It particularly struck a chord as I’d had several conversations that week where checks had come up numerous times – the UK as well as the US to be fair. (As my report on the trends in the space showed, 2/3rds of all checks globally are written in the US). For the UK, it’s relevant as one of the reasons why the UK will get a payments regulator very shortly is the backlash to the audacity of the payments industry to try and retire a payment instrument in 6 years time (i.e. by 2018) that is over a thousand years old. The conversation in the US was about planning for new investments in check processing. It looks like neither country will be checkless any time soon – surely that’s a step that has to come before cashless? Yet here are the Dutch looking to get rid of cash. They got rid of checks in 2001 as a payments instrument, and now they’re making moves to go that next step. Yes, it was a publicity stunt (there was also a big sell on contactless for example), but equally they were making payments fun, not something that you can often say! Few countries have managed to get cash to a point where it’s less than 50% of all transactions. Will the Netherlands be the first to go completely cashless? P.S. The only downside to the campaign was perhaps slightly unfortunate. At around 1min 45sec in the video there is someone in a tube in a similar manner to a television game show, trying to grab what looks suspiciously like cash!