Societies around the world are gradually becoming cashless. Many of us already rarely use fiat currency in its physical form, and thus, physical types of cash are becoming more of a concept than something tangible.
However, as we have previously stated, 1.7 billion people remain unbanked. Hundreds of millions more never use their bank accounts because they simply do not earn enough to merit its use. That means that about a third of the world's 7.7 billion inhabitants still use cash and probably will for many years to come.
Electroneum is among the very few cryptocurrencies and the blockchain projects and FinTech firms that are investing in helping bring those billions of people into the global digital economy.
Targeting the unbanked and others excluded financially will unlock a trillion-dollar opportunity at the same time as assisting those financially excluded to break the cycle of poverty. Electroneum is heavily focusing on giving cryptocurrency a human face.
They will do that through the ETN Everywhere platform, which shows everybody anywhere where the Electroneum crypto is accepted as a form of payment.
The priority will be very much about that, putting a human face on Electroneum. They will deploy on-the-ground ambassadors globally, who will be entrusted with visiting merchants and, in face-to-face encounters, educate them on the benefits of accepting ETN as payment.
Also, to encourage these merchants to take and expand the ETN Everywhere program, which is laid out on the online platform. The strategy includes explaining to shop owners and service providers, among others, the incentives Electroneum will give them to compel them to join the amazing Electroneum community.
The strategy is part of a long-term campaign to keep merchants using and accepting ETN, as it may be easy to sign on new shops and service providers, but the challenge is to ensure they remain.
The pros of going cashless
Of course, financial inclusion is one of the most excellent and significant benefits of transitioning into cashless societies. That is an area where many companies are doing great things, such as Revolut and M-PESA.
The former offers banking services, including debit cards, currency exchange at no cost, commission-free stock trading, crypto exchange, and free peer-to-peer payments and money transfers. The latter is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing, and microfinancing service.
M-Pesa was launched in 2007 in Kenya and according to an article on CNN, has "made a dramatic impact." Vodafone's Safaricom mobile operator created it as a simple method of texting small payments between users.
By 2017, M-PESA boasted having 30 million users in 10 countries, including the United States.
"Two percent of Kenyan households were lifted out of extreme poverty through access to M-PESA," CNN added. M-PESA owes its massive success to the face-to-face campaign it launched as it had to switch their subscribers' SIM card, which Safaricom provided at no cost. That created a feeling of greater trust from customers.
Another benefit of going cashless is the enhancement of tax revenue, which means governments will have more money to spend on development, infrastructure, and other programmes that favour citizens.
It also boosts consumption as cashless offers little to no incentives for hoarding fiat currency. When consumption increases, economies grow significantly.
And lastly, according to an article on Swift Money, numerous studies have revealed that going cashless reduces crime significantly, including bank robberies, burglaries, extortion, and corruption.
Countries already going cashless
In March 2019, an Access to Cash Review released a 130-page report revealing that "ten years ago, six out of every ten transactions were cash. Now, it's three in ten. And in 15 years, it could be as low as one in ten."
It adds that "while most of society recognises the benefits of digital payments, our research shows that the technology doesn't yet work for everyone." It presents the UK as an example of a society that is not read to go cashless, as 17% of the population would struggle to cope in a cashless society.
"Sweden, the most cashless society in the world, outlines the dangers of sleepwalking into a cashless society: millions of people could potentially be left out of the economy, and face increased risks of isolation, exploitation, debt and rising costs."
The Economist recently wrote that "cash accounts for just 6% of purchases by value in Norway. Britain is probably four or six years behind the Nordic countries. America is perhaps a decade behind. In China, digital payments rose from 4% of all payments in 2012 to 34% in 2017."
Other countries going cashless
There was a total of 115 billion non-cash transactions made in Europe alone in 2017, 162 billion in North America, and 93 billion in emerging Asia. Capgemini released a world payments report estimating that in 2018, 123 billion cashless transactions would take place in Europe, 168 billion in North America, and 121 billion in emerging Asia.
Cryptocurrency as an alternative to cash
With cryptocurrency, your identity and spending is kept private, writes B21, mobile app to invest in crypto assets. Paying with cryptocurrency also eliminates the need for intermediaries, such as banks.
Cryptocurrencies also allow people to send and receive funds from or to friends and family in other cities or countries almost instantly and without fees. By focusing on financial inclusion, particularly in developing countries, Electroneum is set to immediately provide access to those who are unbanked through their ETN Everywhere campaign. This merchant education and incentive program is aimed at increasing the number of those who accept ETN payments.
And through AnyTasks, the freelancer platform that will also offer the financially excluded free access to the global digital economy. The platform enables people to supplement their income by selling side tasks that they can perform with a smartphone and laptops. And then there's the no-cost eLearning element that will provide people in developing countries courses to gain the skills with a smartphone and laptop computers that they can then sell on AnytTasks and get paid without requiring PayPal or a bank account.
"Access to financial services opens doors for families, allowing them to smooth out consumption and invest in their futures through education and health," said Mitsuhiro Furusawa, the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "Access to credit enables businesses to expand, creating jobs and reducing inequality. Financial inclusion is the bridge between economic opportunity and outcome."
"In fact, IMF analysis has shown that more inclusion boosts growth. So, for once, it is possible to have both: higher growth and more inclusion," he added.
A handful or fewer cryptocurrency projects are working on ways to help eradicate financial exclusion. Electroneum is already headed that way with 3.2 million registered users who, thanks to ETN rewards, are finding out how easy it is to use crypto and learning of the benefits. There are already many shops in various countries accepting ETN payments.
Part 4: The evolution of payments