The end of cash? Canadian retailers, consumers shifting to cards, apps

Saturday, April 1, 2017
By Paul Martin

MSN.com
3/1/2017

Shoppers looking for the cash register to pay for their purchases at Vancouver’s Kit and Ace active apparel stores in Gastown and Kitsilano will find a complete absence of banknotes.

The Vancouver-based brand — founded in 2014 by family members of Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson — is one of the most notable cases of retailers abandoning bills and coins, which some observers have heralded as “the beginning of the end” for cash transactions in Canadian society.

In September, payment technology company Moneris said in a report that cash will make up only 10 per cent of the money spent in Canada by 2030, with credit or debit card payments and mobile solutions like Apple Pay making up the vast majority of day-to-day transactions.

Rob Cameron, chief product officer at Moneris, said the adoption of cashless payment is accelerating as technologies like contactless (or “tap”) transactions gain wider adoption among merchants. As of 2014, cash still made up 35 per cent of Canadian transactions, but Moneris’s survey showed younger shoppers increasingly moving to alternatives.

“I think if anything, the 10-per-cent projection is conservative,” Cameron said. “If cash gets small enough … more retailers may start turning it off. We are already seeing that; we’re seeing the airlines do that, we’re seeing parking do that, and we are seeing some quick-serve retailers starting to do it.”

Observers say the move to cashless transaction is being driven by merchants and consumers. For the consumer, it is the convenience of tapping a card and being quickly on one’s way. For businesses, tapping is far more efficient than handling change and it’s even more efficient than traditional card payment methods like chip-and-PIN, meaning they can handle more customers in the same time.

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