The Future of Going Cashless in Canada

Posted on July 2, 2021

During COVID, cash became taboo and transactions became the new default. Now, in the post-COVID world, is cash still taboo? And will transactions become what everyone uses from now on? 

Canadians are constantly embracing new technologies and are among the most digitally attuned people in the world, which brings up the question...are we going cashless? 

The simple answer is no. At least not for a long time. But it's a little more complicated than that. Shall we look at it more deeply?

The Data

The majority of Canadians have reported that they have no plans of going completely cashless. Even those who claim they are cashless and only use e-transfers and credit cards still carry some cash around. 

This not only demonstrates that even though cash was partially gone for almost the entire duration of COVID, it's also still here, even if hidden in our pockets. Like most of the world, Canadians use smartphones to pay for items in-store, check their banks, and shop online. 

It is clear that most won't leave their houses without their phones. However, the important question is, are they going to bring cash with them? It is crazy to think that even though most personal purchases in Canada are card-based, people still carry cash around with them. 

The Bank of Canada surveyed and found that one in every ten Canadians were completely cashless. In fact, Canada was ranked number one in a study from 2017 as the most cashless country in the world. 

It seems as if Canada has been almost entirely cashless for years now. But, that is simply not true. Merchants and people from past generations continue to cherish their cash, and most reject new technologies like online transactions.

A close second was Sweden, a country where the government is now struggling to find how going cashless could affect its citizens. So, is going cashless really the best option here?

An article called Bank of Canada Study Finds Canadians Not Going Cashless offers great data! 

Benefits of Going Cashless

Not all things are bad. Going cashless can bring many benefits to Canada:

  • Reduction of manpower hours
  • Increase of revenue
  • Highly convenient
  • Speedy transactions
  • Ease of use
  • More tourism 
  • More credit
  • More debit and app options
  • Reach of younger Canadian audiences
  • New digital currencies
  • Mobile Banking
  • Curbside Pickup
  • Online shopping
  • Meal Home Deliveries

The truth is that during a pandemic, contactless is key in physically distancing days. Besides, most people aren't walking around with wallets and change purses anymore. 

It is understandable, of course, that during and after the pandemic, many prefer to use their online and safe transactions that will not likely get them sick. People just don't want to be touching money that has been touched by strangers. 

But, is this realistic though? There are others who benefit from cash every single day. People that live and work in the rural areas of Canada, selling organic eggs and vegetables, and the majority of these people will not accept online transactions. 

If Canada goes cashless, then what happens with small businesses like this one? 

It's Complicated

It truly is hard to decide what is the best option for the country and for everyone. Every single individual is different! We all have experienced those conversations with merchants that do not accept online payments, while others do not accept cash. 

Who can blame them? The world has changed immensely since COVID started. There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the shift from cash to online transactions. 

Businesses have been trying to minimize the touching PIN pads or anything that requires customers to touch screens or menus at restaurants. Now even menus can be scanned with a code and it appears on your smartphone device.

So, it seems as if everyone should be carrying both cash and the availability of online transactions. A balance of sorts. 

The key to a rapidly changing world is to be adaptable, which is hard for past generations that have depended on cash for their whole lives. But it is possible.

Meredith Macleod writes Are Canadians ready to go cashless after coronavirus? She offers the opinion of different Canadians to discover what the people have to say about the new changes due to COVID.

The Dangerous Risks

Cashless systems are not perfect. Technology isn't perfect either. This means that cashless systems would give governments the opportunity to track and record every transaction. 

There are good things and bad things about this. The good part is that it will be very challenging to defraud or steal, but the bad part is that there will literally be no privacy. Privacy will be something of the past, a myth. 

More importantly, cashless systems would enable banks to impose any monetary policy, including those that affect users negatively because consumers would have no way to retrieve their cash. 

Like every other system, a cashless one would most likely be vulnerable to system failures because of cyber attacks or power outages, inevitably leaving the user and the user's information vulnerable as well.

The Good Use of Cash

Cash has been part of our human existence for the longest time. And, as stated above, cashless systems can be vulnerable, whereas cash is able to work even when systems are down. 

Moreover, you can use cash without necessarily giving anyone your personal or banking information. It simply avoids the risk of being hacked or having your card compromised.

Cash promises privacy and even though there is a risk of someone stealing your wallet (like cashless systems have the risk of being hacked), you can always save some cash somewhere else. 

Besides, some people from past generations don't want to deal with cards. Not to mention online transactions. They can be complicated for people who were not born with it in their environment. 

Cash is just easier to handle for everyone, especially for people with illnesses like dementia. 

The simple way of stating the truth is that cashless systems are not for everyone, the same way that cash is not for everyone. And, they both have their risks and pros as everything we use in our daily lives. 

That said, we work hard to give Canadians the best comparison guides so you can pick the perfect plans for you! Don't wait for too long and find what is just right for your goals.

Cash Is Here to Stay

Cash is tactile and tangible, which almost everyone appreciates. Although the world is moving towards more ambiguity than ever.  The benefits of cash are clear: It’s accessible, simple, steady, and almost universally accepted.

More importantly, it’s anonymous, it can’t be hacked, it doesn't work with transaction fees, it doesn’t leave any trail, and it is usable at all times of the day, regardless if there is an electric problem or not. 

Additionally, cash is perfect for small and informal transactions like church services, bake sales and lemonade stands, roadside fundraisers, and garage sales. 

Even if Canada transitions into a cashless country eventually, it's not going to be any time soon. We aren't there yet.

It is almost certain that it will be cashless, but not for now. The simple reason is due to the fact that the country is almost divided into two: those who prefer cash and those who prefer online transactions or systems.  

Consumers will continue to demand choice, which is why it is most likely not going cashless. Not for a long time, at least. People want the option, the balance of having the perks of both. 

It is safe to say that there is a considerable segment of the population who love cash. That’s not going to change. Cash is good, cashless is good too. As long as there are both, and both are used for solutions, then Canada will be just fine. 

There are numerous articles and experts writing about whether Canada is going cashless or not, and one of the best articles so far is by Cash Matters, who writes an article titled Canadians Have no Plans to Go Cashless.It gives insightful and surprising information. 

Keep an Eye out

To conclude, Canada has no plan on going cashless any time soon. But if you want to learn more, you are always welcome to read from our intuitive blog where you will find articles ranging from explaining COVID to kids, to various guides regarding insurance. 

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