Cash is still king but needs reform

FTSE giant G4S is predicting a ‘decade of change’ in the use of cash across Europe.

Graham Levinsohn, G4S regional chief executive, said there was already a “fundamental transition in the use of cash across Europe” which requires “root and branch reform” of how cash is processed by countries in Europe.

His comments came following the publication of a G4S report into cash use across 28 European economies.

It found that the volume of cash transactions across Europe had increased 11% per year up to 2015 with cash now making up 60% of all payment transactions. At the same time the proportion of all payments made by cash has fallen, with 40% of payments across the EU now made by card, electronic and digital payments.

ATM withdrawals, a good indicator of cash spending, rose 14.6% between 2009 and 2014 with the total volume of non-cash payments increasing to 102.3billion transactions.

“What we are experiencing is a fundamental transition in the use of cash across Europe. European consumers and businesses will continue to use cash as part of a multi-payment economy but we need to modernise how they can use it,” said Levinsohn.

“The cash supply chain is highly fragmented across Europe which creates chronic inefficiency. In the most extreme cases cash could be counted up to 17 times from till to bank. This creates an unnecessary cost burden on businesses and banks alike. We must work together to drive root and branch reform by streamlining and simplifying the cash cycles of Europe, creating fewer transfers between actors and consequently less duplication of effort. Significant cost efficiencies can be driven through the cash cycle so that cash remains a cost-effective payment mechanism into the future.”

He urged better interface with electronic and digital payments methods and minimising handling and processing costs for cash.