Mirror mirror on the wall
Who’s the most cashless
of them all?

Maple Leaf DigitalEach year, the country that U.S. citizens visit most is Canada, our neighbor to the north. Yanks venturing there after 2009 would have noted that Canada had already adopted chip cards, a move the United States would not make until 2105, even then not without hiccups.

Now a new survey from Payments Canada suggests that more than half of Canadians say they’re all for making the big jump to a cashless society. According to Huffpost Canana Business:

A new survey from Payments Canada finds 50 per cent of Canadians are ready to get rid of banknotes and coins. Two-thirds of respondents said they are ready to say goodbye to personal cheques.

Yet From Press Canada points out that Canadians aren’t yet putting their money where their mouth is:

… it’s still a minority segment of the population that has adopted paperless forms of payment, according to the 1,507 Canadians surveyed by Payments Canada and Leger Marketing.

Canadians do only 19 per cent of their shopping online, and only 13 per cent say they have uploaded an e-wallet app, according to the online survey conducted in late March and early April.

“This data demonstrates a natural ambivalence around emerging technological advancements in payments but endorsement from early adopters, which often signifies a tipping point,” said Gerry Gaetz, chief executive of Payments Canada, the organization which owns and operates Canada’s payment clearing and settlement infrastructure, in a statement.

It’s important to bear in mind with surveys that what people say they’ll do doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do it. And it would be prudent not to rule out inadvertent bias on the part of Payments Canada. Notwithstanding, Canada does seem to be moving steadily away from cash, as are a number of other nations.

As I reported last month, the Republic of India has made becoming a cashless society an official goal. Yet according even to India Today, Scandinavia may be least abashed about going cashless. Cash transactions in Sweden are reportedly down to just 3 percent. In Norway, one bank has proposed eliminating cash, and several no longer distribute cash to customers. And in Denmark, a growing number of retailers refuse to accept cash.

Not that everyone agrees on who the leaders are. World Atlas ranks Belgium as leading the cashless charge (yes, pun intended), followed by France, Canada, and the United Kingdom, with cashless transactions at, respectively, 93, 92, 90, and 89 percent. Big Decisions reports that the top five cashless countries are, in order of cashlessness, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Canada, and Belgium.

The astute reader will note that while reports vary as to who leads, they are mostly in agreement as to which countries are at the top. Canada is one of them. If the Payments Canada survey reflects reality, we can expect Canada to keep up the trend.

The name Canada derives from an aboriginal American word meaning “village.” Clearly, its humble beginnings as reflected in the name belie the powerful economic force that is Canada today.

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