Say farewell to the piggy bank  

There is a simple message for merchants that refuse to embrace modern payments methods, and still expect customers to hand over cash, modernise or go out of business.

A glimpse of the future can be gleaned from Denmark, with reports earlier this month putting it on track to become the first country to go cashless, and as soon as January next year.

In a society where mobile payment apps are the norm, notes and coins are literally becoming a thing of the past, and the piggy bank’s days are numbered.

Bank notes a collector’s item

In October last year the Danish central bank, Danmarks Nationalbank, announced it will stop printing bank notes, and likely coins as well, by the end of 2016.

The Danish government has been urging people to stop using notes since 2011, and has made it clear cash transactions over 10,000 Kroner (US1700) may attract greater tax office scrutiny.

While the minting of currency will be outsourced, and not disappear entirely, the push to make notes history is being driven by the low cost of digital payments, crime prevention, tax avoidance, and a new generation of digital natives that happily view their phone as a walking bank branch, amongst its many other uses.

Smartphone’s replace wallets

Already nearly half the nation’s population use Danske Bank’s MobilePay embedded in an app in their smartphones for day-to-day transactions. There are no fees for sending or receiving money, although surprisingly an almost antiquated four digit pin is still required.

Nevertheless, the Danes are ahead of their Northern European neighbours in the near achievement of a cashless, if not pin-less, society, but not streaks ahead.

The Danish Bankers Association reports that across Scandinavia cash payments account for less than 6% of payments. In contrast Americans still use cash for 47% of payments, reflective not so much of an aversion to technology, but the difficultly of implementing compatible payment systems in such a large multi-bank economy.

Cash demise attracts bi-partisan support

But certainly Danes have a mind-set that makes acceptance of digital payments easy to implement, despite the many warnings of security risk it reportedly represents.

The shift to a cashless society has had little local opposition from Danish media, the two major political parties, or business groups.

 And that means there is a good chance legislation will pass by year end to give retailers and service companies the option to ban cash payments.

So if you’re local fish and chip shop still expects those pesky notes and coins in exchange for a feed, give them a copy of this article, for as they say, the writing is on the wall.


This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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