Visa really wants to make us all quit cash. In fact, they’re giving 50 small restaurants a whopping $10,000 each (EACH!) in order to upgrade their payment systems and go completely cashless. The question is, will it help Visa win its ongoing war on the green stuff?
And yes, it’s basically an all-out war at this point. According to The Wall Street Journal, Visa’s new CEO, Al Kelly, is on a tear to cut cash.
“We’re focused on putting cash out of business,” he told the company’s investors in June. But he might have a tough job of it: around the world, more and more people are using cash and checks. In the U.S., we still use good old fashioned foldin’ money in 32 percent of all transactions (down from 40 percent in 2012). But if Visa has its way, that percentage will continue to plummet.
Going cashless is actually not entirely new to the business world. The fast-casual salad joint Sweetgreen went completely cashless this year in nearly all of its stores.
The reasons are varied, but they include everything from reducing emissions from armored trucks that pick up the cash to hygiene concerns (money is notoriously filthy) and increased productivity; according to Sweetgreen, employees can perform 5 to 15 percent more transactions an hour when they don’t have to deal with cash.
The one big downside? Transaction fees on all the money from cards. And according to the National Retail Federation, cash-related expenses (even including serious things like robbery and theft) still amount to less than credit card fees.
So even though Visa is willing to shell out $10,000 to help these small businesses upgrade their payment systems, they haven’t said a word about giving discounts on credit card transaction fees or helping businesses out with that particular expense.
Only time will tell if Americans can quit their cash habit—but you can feel secure in using those crumpled bills you found in your pocket for now.