Cash in a World of Digital Payments
ACC Testimony before the House Financial Services Task Force on Financial Technology
Posted on January 31, 2020
Americans for Common Cents provided testimony for Members of the House Task Force on Financial Technology. The January 30 hearing reviewed the rise of mobile payments and asked the question, “Is Cash Still King?”
ACC Executive Director Mark Weller provided comments on the one-cent coin, its importance to the American economy and culture, and more broadly about the key role that cash still plays in our economy, despite growth in the use of credit and debit cards and mobile payments.
Weller emphasized three points about cash and digital payment technology:
- Cash safeguards our privacy. All electronic payment transactions are traceable and by their nature subject to surveillance and control. If third-party financial institutions must be part of all transactions, then they will be privy to the intimate details of everyone’s financial life. There are legitimate concerns about privacy and how this data is used.
- Cash acts as a public good. Cash is acceptable to everyone. A move to cashless payments means financial and social exclusion for those who are precluded from participation in a digital society, particularly the young, elderly and minorities who use cash more frequently than individuals with higher incomes.
- Cash ensures economic stability. Digital payment systems are vulnerable to blackouts, technical glitches, and cyberattacks. These vulnerabilities endanger individuals and society to the risk of immediate economic collapse. Cash cannot be hacked. Cash also serves as a fallback solution in times of financial calamity.
Weller emphasized that it’s essential the U.S. maintain our country’s cash infrastructure. He said ACC is not anti-technology and the organization supports consumers having several ways to make payments be that in cash, with credit and debit cards, or via contactless payments. He concluded cash must continue to be a payment option within the landscape of contemporary payments and government policy must protect a consumer’s right to use cash.
For the complete ACC statement, click here