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更新时间:2017-11-15 19:30:13 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Will Cash Disappear?

Cash is unlikely to go away soon. Coins and paper currency remain the most popular ways to pay for things in most countries. But longer term, cash appears to be in a losing battle with electronic payment methods.


There are few corners of the world where electronic transactions are not growing faster than cash. The consulting firm Capgemini recently estimated that electronic payments will grow about 10.9 percent a year between 2015 and 2020.


But the movement away from cash is happening in very different ways and at varying paces around the world.


Scandinavian countries are already well along the road toward cashless societies. Many banks in Sweden no longer have cash on hand, and consumers can make instant transfers directly from their bank accounts.


In Kenya, the local mobile phone company Safaricom, not the banks or the government, has pushed the envelope. Safaricom created a system, known as M-Pesa, that allows customers to make payments directly from their phones.


China is the most talked-about location in the battle between cash and electronic payments. PayPal-like wallets created by Chinese online giants Alibaba and Tencent have become the most popular ways to pay for things online.


The benefits of moving away from cash have been trumpeted by economists like Kenneth Rogoff, who wrote “The Curse of Cash,” about how paper money enables crime and tax evasion.

肯尼思·罗格夫(Kenneth Rogoff)这样的经济学家一直在鼓吹摆脱现金的好处。罗格夫著有《现金的诅咒》(The Curse Of Cash),内容是有关纸币如何使犯罪和逃税成为可能。

But the critics of cash have been met by their own critics, who argue that electronic payments can disenfranchise poor people who lack easy access to bank accounts and the internet and can make it much easier for governments and corporations to monitor a person’s every step.


In the end, though, the future of money is less likely to be determined by these arguments than to be shaped by the success of technologists making it easier for you to pay for your lunch or morning coffee without pulling out your wallet.




Sweden has been one of most visible leaders in the war on cash. In recent years, the biggest innovation has been not in bank cards but in a phone app known as Swish, which enables instant bank transfers.




Germany has been slower than other European countries to move away from cash. Germans have a preference for debit cards over credit cards because of a cultural dislike of debt. (Not coincidentally, the German word for debt, schuld, also means guilt).

相比其他欧洲国家,德国摆脱现金的速度更慢。由于该国在文化上不喜欢债务,德国人更偏好使用借记卡而非信用卡。 (并非巧合的是,德文中表示债务的单词“schuld”也意味着内疚。)

United States


The United States has lagged behind many wealthy countries in moving away from cash. American banks have been slow to make instant bank transfers possible — most still take at least day. Debit and credit cards remain the most popular payment methods.




Payment cards have become popular in Japan, but it has been slower to give up cash than most other rich countries. The government has initiatives to speed up the transition but consumers have been hesitant to leave cash behind.


South Korea


As part of its war on corruption, South Korea has pushed hard to move its financial system away from cash. Companies refusing to take electronic payments have been penalized, and the South Korea central bank has called for a “cashless society” by 2020.




Kenya is a model for how electronic payments can evolve without banks. M-Pesa, introduced in 2007 by the largest Kenyan mobile phone provider, Safaricom, allows people without bank accounts to send money electronically. Most Kenyans are using the service.




In the last few years China has led the charge into the cashless future. Internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent have created their own online payment methods. Alipay and Tenpay have rapidly become the most popular ways to pay.




India has been slow to move away from cash. But last year it took the largest cash bills out of circulation as part of an anti-corruption campaign. Companies like Facebook and Alipay hope the move will provide an opening for electronic payment systems.

印度摆脱现金的速度缓慢。但在去年,该国把市面上流通的最大面额现钞废除,以此作为打击腐败行动的一部分。 Facebook和支付宝等公司希望这一举措将为电子支付系统提供一个开放的平台。