In this issue
Issue 11 • November 2021
Cash isn’t king. It hasn’t been for some time. Contactless payments, online shopping and electronic transactions have been around for years – and their ubiquity is only set to grow. No matter that some Neo-luddites may be fighting a rearguard action against the cashless society, the world is increasingly breaking up with old-fashioned money, for better and for worse.
In the Nordic nations, only a shrinking minority of transactions are made with physical money. Norwegians, for instance, only use banknotes and coins in around 4% of all transactions. The UK is, comparatively, behind the curve, with cash payments used for 17% of all transactions in 2020, which is still a massive drop from the 70% recorded in 2010.
Banks and other financial institutions have welcomed the move as it enables them to automate a lot of work that used to be done manually, empowering them to cut costs whilst simultaneously speeding up their services. The result has been a widespread closing of branches and ATMs, which has drawn criticism from the opponents of the cashless society.
Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of digital money in general. A combination of fear of spreading the contagion via notes, social distancing rules motivating more consumers to take their shopping online, and rising contactless spending limits have all contributed to the rise of cashless transactions over the past two years.
Money going digital has also opened up opportunities for companies in the financial technology space. Over the past decade neobanks like Revolut, payment processing companies like Square and buy-now-pay-later ventures like Klarna have reaped the benefits of an increasingly cashless society – in the world’s wealthier nations, at least. Tellingly, Klarna became Europe’s most valuable privately owned company earlier this year, reaching a $45.6bn valuation.
Given the skyrocketing digitalisation of money, we have devoted this issue of Verdict Magazine to fintech, the intersection of the financial and technology industries. Among other things, we investigate the rise of the Latin American fintech scene and hear from Klarna’s UK boss about how his rising firm plans to go on the offensive against the nation’s big banks.
Read on for all of this plus the usual in-depth analysis and comment in the latest issue of Verdict Magazine.
Eric Johansson, editor