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专栏国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

英国针对货币过快电子化发出警告

专栏国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

英国针对货币过快电子化发出警告

如今在英国,人们的现金使用量越来越少:购买日常用品时使用银行卡(或智能手机)付款比翻找一叠钞票(或一口袋硬币)更方便。但随着数字支付的全球风行,难免有不少人会跟不上这个快进的步调。

一份名为《现金使用回顾》的报告为我们敲响了警钟。这份报告指出,无现金化可能会导致一些群体陷于“危险”境地。

报道称,目前现金对英国约2500万人来说是"经济必需品"。近一半的受访者表示,无现金社会会造成很多问题,这部分人群中有14%的人表示无法应对无现金社会。

这类风险人群包括老年人、农村地区人口以及拥有有限正规金融服务途径的穷人。

即使现在银行分行和ATM机数量不断减少,实物货币占主导地位的状况依然存在。英国金融监察专员服务部前首席执行官Natalie Ceeney指出,便利店约四分之三的购买行为和类似比例的慈善捐赠都是通过纸币和硬币完成的。无家可归者和街头表演者收到的几乎都是实物货币。

2017年,英国电子借记卡交易次数首次超过实物货币交易次数。在这方面,英国人领先于其他许多国家,世界大部分地区也都在逐渐发生这种转变。

但是,现金在日常交易中的使用频率变低并不意味着英格兰银行货币印刷量减少。目前流通的英国纸币数量已达到稳定水平,数量是世纪之交时的两倍以上。有些人囤积现金,因为他们不信任银行或者希望保持支付的私密性。逃税也是一个很重要的原因。报告中引用的估计数字指出,英国地下经济规模可能高达国家GDP的11%,即2230亿英镑(2820亿美元)。

此外,随着现金使用的减少,企业成本也越来越高。由于银行分支机构关闭,企业去现场办理业务需要花费更多时间,现金处理成本不断上升。

电子支付是一件好事,理由数不胜数。但是纸币已存在了一千年左右,技术方面的任何重大变化有会有缺点。消除这些风险是确保不让任何人落下、让整个社会变得更好的唯一途径。

Brits are increasingly going cashless: it’s easier to pay for everyday items by tapping a card (or smartphone) than by sorting through a wad of notes (or a pocketful of heavy coins). But as digital payments catch on around the world, there’s a growing risk that some people will be left behind.

The UK’s Access to Cash Review sounded the alarm today, detailing some of the groups in danger. (The review was funded by the Link ATM network but says it is independent from the cash-handling service.) For now, cash is “an economic necessity” for around 25 million people in the UK, according to the report. Nearly half of people surveyed said a cashless society would be problematic for them, and 14% of that subset said they wouldn’t be able to cope at all.

Those at risk include the elderly, people in rural areas, as well as poor people with limited access to formal financial services. There are also concerns about privacy—digital payments can be more traceable—and some charities and homeless people rely on cash donations. Meanwhile, research suggests that people who use mobile apps and fintech products end up making worse financial decisions.

Even as the number of bank branches and ATMs dwindles (and the decline in cash withdrawals accelerates), there are instances when physical money remains popular. Notes and coins are used for around three-quarters of convenience store purchases and a similar share of charity donations, according to the review, which was chaired by Natalie Ceeney, a former chief executive of the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service. Nearly all money given to homeless people and street performers is physical cash.

The UK report is timely. Last year, electronic debit card transactions in the UK outnumbered those with physical money for the first time. Brits are further ahead than their counterparts in many other countries, but the shift is gradually happening around much of the world. Investors are betting big on the move to digital transactions, and there are clear upsides to getting rid of cash, which is vulnerable to burglary and sustains the underground criminal economy.

But just because cash is used less often for daily transactions doesn’t mean the Bank of England is printing less of it. The amount of UK paper money in circulation has recently plateaued, but it has more than doubled since the turn of the century. Some people hoard paper cash because they distrust banks or prefer for their payments to remain private. Tax evasion also probably accounts for a large share. The underground economy may be as large as 11% of UK GDP, or £223 billion ($282 billion), according to estimates cited in the report.

As cash use dwindles, it’s getting more expensive for businesses. Handling costs are going up, and as bank branches close it takes more time to travel to them. At the same time, smaller firms say payment terminals like iZettle (purchased by PayPal this year) make digital payments more convenient, the report said, and are stepping away from cash to make theft less likely.

The are plenty of reasons why the shift to electronic payments is a good thing. But as with any major change in technology—paper money has been around for a thousand years or so—there are downsides. Addressing those risks is the only way to make sure that nobody gets left behind and that society as a whole is better off.

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