Should we get rid of cash? In principle: yes. There are hidden costs to a persistent cash economy and, as digital alternatives like Google Wallet, Square Cash and bitcoin emerge, physical currency is liable to be digitally disrupted.
For consumers, the costs of using cash are regressive and fall heaviest on the “unbanked” – mostly low-income individuals who can least afford it. Unbanked individuals are four times more likely to pay fees to access their money, like for cashing checks, than those belonging to formal financial institutions.
For businesses, paper money must be stored, guarded and accounted for. It can be difficult to transport and is inherently insecure. U.S. retail businesses lose about $40 billion a year because of the theft of cash alone.
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