This article was contributed by Marius Costin, Head of EMEA High Velocity and US Sales for PayU. It was originally published in ATM Marketplace.
2020 felt like a pivotal point in our society becoming increasingly cashless. When the pandemic first began, Western banks shut down most of their branches to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading. Months later, several European banks decided to permanently close branches based on shifting consumer behavior spearheaded by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, an increasing number of consumers in the Western world now clearly prefer digital banking.
Advancing toward a cashless society
As an international payment provider, PayU understand that the debate surrounding the cashless transformation did not just begin in 2020. It’s also much more than just a Western market debate. In 2016, India’s government decided to withdraw as much as 80% of its circulating cash as part of efforts to reduce corruption. In a country that relied upon cash for 90% of transactions, this transition was far from simple.
Around the world, nearly 2 million individuals remain unbanked – more than a quarter of the global population. And while the pandemic has brought a rapid acceleration in demand for digital financial services, we still have a duty and responsibility to consider the pre-pandemic challenges of supporting and providing services for those who are not attached to a bank. Therefore, as we advance toward a cashless society, we have to ensure that these changes are done in a way that promotes financial inclusion. Government agencies, regulators, fintechs, and conventional financial services providers must work together to ensure that all members of society are being served.
While these challenges are not new, efforts to ensure equitable access to financial services have in some ways been pushed aside amidst many other challenges of the pandemic. As we look ahead to the future, fintech operators must keep this focus in mind, ensuring that digital payments and financial services are accessible and appealing to everyone.