Business of Design

Did COVID-19 Propel America Closer To A Cashless Future?

Since the pandemic began one year ago, there has been an 8.3% decrease in cash transactions.

The Download: This past year, the share of cashless businesses doubled in the U.S., Australia, Canada, the U.K., and Japan. Meanwhile, in Australia, where Covid-19 cases have been lower, the increased and stabilized share of cashless businesses indicates a trend that might come to be the “new normal.” More than half of businesses that started taking online payments this past year began doing so during the first two months of the pandemic, signaling how business owners and consumers have become increasingly reliant upon contactless and online payment options.

Why It Matters: It’s been one year since the onset of Covid-19 drastically altered our lives. Business owners were forced to carry on against the odds, many adapting their operating models entirely, while consumers were stuck at home. In between quarantine mandates and reopenings, global commerce changed more than ever before. Consumers have started to adopt cashless payment, signaling a new inclination toward digitization for consumers and business owners alike.

In Their Own Words: “The steady increase in cashless adoption rates during the course of the pandemic is emblematic of a renewed preference for digitization among business owners and consumers. In the United States specifically, we estimate the shift away from cash usage in this past year would have taken nearly three years without the pandemic,” said Square’s report, “Making Change: One Year of Payments and the Pandemic.”

Surface Says: Will the U.S. become completely cashless? We’re not ditching cash anytime soon, but contactless payments, online ordering, and touch-free delivery are telling signs of the forms of commerce that are here to stay—even once Covid-19 is far behind us.

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