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A hot potato: The advancement of technology has seen many things we once thought would last forever disappear. But one of the most controversial areas right now is the prospect of a cashless society. Different countries have different opinions on the matter, and in the US, a new study suggests only two states are opposed to waving goodbye to greenbacks forever.
Information and comparison website Merchant Machine delved into the number of countries and states that want a cashless society. This was determined by using an AI sentiment analysis tool that calculated the proportion of negative and positive geotagged tweets on the subject—not the most accurate method, but it still gives us an idea of public opinion.
Focusing on the US, where four in ten people now say they don't carry cash at all, only Alabama and Delaware were the states that felt more strongly in favor of keeping paper and coin money. Apart from those two exceptions, most states tweet positively about a cashless society at least one-quarter of the time, the most positive being South Dakota (where 39.22% of tweets are positive), North Dakota (38.78%), Iowa (38.48%) and Wisconsin (38.27%).
One of the issues with going cashless is the problems it will cause for the poorest members of society who may not have bank accounts. It's unlikely to be a coincidence that most of the positive tweets originated in states with lower rates of unbanked people. Only 4.9% of residents in North and South Dakota have no checking account, and that number falls to 2.6% in Iowa. In Alabama, which had the fewest number of pro-cashless tweets, the unbanked figure is 7.6%.
It's estimated that 6.5% of US households are without any sort of bank account. According to former Delaware Senator David McBride, many people in the state cannot obtain credit or debit cards. Delaware is also one of the several cities and states in the US where cashless stores are banned, a list that includes San Francisco and New Jersey.
The US is one of 54 countries that research deemed wants to go cashless. There were 32 countries that rejected the idea, with France being the most opposed.
The pandemic saw a large number businesses forced to go cashless, and many consumers have found they prefer it that way. Judging by the many angry posts on Facebook about not losing physical cash, it's a subject that ignites passionate arguments from people in the opposite camp, often over fears of fraud or theft.
Masthead: Igal Ness