Who’s Powering the War on Cash?

The Alliance is in place. On Monday in Japan, Apple CEO Tim Cook vented his spleen once more against physical currency, telling the Nikkei that ‘we don’t think the consumer particularly likes cash.’
It’s a bizarre conclusion to reach, especially in Japan where cash is still the undisputed king. At 90 trillion ($885 billion), or about a fifth of gross domestic product, the value of banknotes in circulation is the highest in the world as a proportion of the economy. Many small businesses, including many restaurants, don’t even take plastic. Yet, the country was also the first to popularize mobile wallets and smartphones.
‘We would like to be a catalyst for taking cash out of the system,’ Cook said, his mind fixed on Apple Pay, which takes a cut on every transaction it processes.
Yet Apple Pay isn’t generating substantial revenue for the company, as Fortune points out. The service – as with just about everything Apple ever produced – is only compatible with Apple’s own products, leaving the more than a billion people worldwide who use Android-based smartphones out of the loop. Not to mention the billions more who don’t use a smart phone at all.
But cash’s days are numbered, as technological advances and changes in generational priorities dampen its allure. The world is brimming with individuals and institutions determined to put it out of its misery.

This post was published at Wolf Street on October 19, 2016.

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