October 10, 2022. Many Florida restaurants and gas stations are accepting only cash in the wake of Hurricane Ian. These businesses need electricity and an internet connection –which doesn’t currently exist or is poor– to process payments and track sales.
“Cash demand skyrockets during crises, be it man-made or a natural disaster,” said Americans for Common Cents Executive Director Mark Weller. “Hurricane Ian illustrates why we should not lose the infrastructure supporting the economic stability of cash,” Weller added.
Digital payment systems are vulnerable to blackouts, technical glitches, and cyber-attacks. 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. These advantages illustrate why we should not lose the infrastructure supporting the economic stability of cash.
It is increasingly difficult in some European countries for consumers to access their own cash. For example, Sweden is virtually a cashless country, with fewer than 20% of payment transactions made in cash. Half of the country’s 1,400 bank branches no longer accept cash deposits, according to the European Consumer Organization. The country relies heavily on Visa and MasterCard to process its transactions. As the number of ATMs and bank branches steadily decrease, countries run the risk of losing their cash infrastructure, thus making them even more vulnerable to economic disruption from technology glitches, system power failure and cyberattacks.
Cash is our most resilient and reliable payment option, and this most recent natural disaster reminds us that maintaining our cash infrastructure is imperative.