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News Hour, 5 November 2016: 'Cash disappearing from society'

"Euro coins, tens and fifties, Dutch people are using them less and less. People pay more often by debit card and less and less in cash. Banks and retailers are happy with it, because it is safer, cheaper and more convenient.

But there are also objections: all debit card transactions are recorded by banks, and debit cards - especially contactless ones - lead to less conscious buying behaviour.


For the first time this year, more payments were made by debit card than by cash. By far the most money is spent by book entry. The Payments Association, which records it all, thinks that in 10 years' time, cash will have practically disappeared.

Director Gijs Boudewijn: "We expect the use of cash to be limited to ten per cent then. There is a small group of people who will continue to use it. You have to think of principled opponents of debit cards, and the very elderly and those from vulnerable groups."

He emphasises the advantages of debit cards. "If you look at all the costs, such as the risk of robbery, theft by in-house staff, and counting and depositing the money, cash is about twice as expensive as debit cards."

Pay pain

"We should not do away with cash," says Henriette Prast, professor of consumer economics at Tilburg University. According to her, contactless debit cards make you miss out on much-needed "payment pain": "You don't notice you are spending money. Cash appears to make consumers more aware of their spending. There are people who have to live on a hundred or two hundred euros a week, for them it is very nice to see exactly how much money they have left."

"Our research shows that people spend their money more carefully when it is cash. Indeed, cash payers buy more healthy products. In particular, young people and schoolchildren buy more unhealthy things if they are allowed to use debit cards," Prast said.

According to Bas Filippini, president of the Privacy First movement, cash should not disappear. According to him, privacy is at stake. "If you have to PIN everything, the banks and the government are looking over your shoulder. In the end, the government also wants to know what you spend it on. They check your choice patterns. Money is made suspicious."

The counter-arguments have limited validity as far as Filippini is concerned. "It is said that it would bring down crime if we map all transactions. Now I just came from Germany, cash payments are made there much more than here but crime is really not higher. I don't see why things should be any different now than they were 10 years ago. I have to know for myself where I spend my money.""

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