Cashless society is coming and coming fast. The government of Kenya is set to introduce cashless payments for government services in April this year. Three months later, it will be “illegal” to pay for PSV services using the traditional notes and coins in Kenya – one will either use Bebapay by Google and Equity Bank or Lipa na M-Pesa by Kopokopo and Safaricom. In the global stage, the US boasts of 80% of transactions being done electronically whereas Sweden has a achieved a 97% cashless transaction rate. In Africa where people have not embraced debit and credit cards, mobile money will be king and thanks to our digital government Kenya could be the leading cashless country in Africa after a successful adoption of electronic transactions in PSVs and government sectors.
“Keep change” is analogue
A cashless society is good. A 100% cashless society means the government will be saving on the billions of dollars spent to print money. The society will also save on hundreds of millions of dollars spent to treat diseases transmitted via notes and coins. And businesses will no longer need to worry about “change” or “balance”. Cashless society will also do away with tips and “keep change” – which is both good and bad depending on the side of the transaction you’ll be in.
Dictatorship made easy
But cashless society will usher in an easier way for the governments to control commerce and the citizens. It will be very easy for a government to restrict the types of businesses on operation as every business will have to register to receive payments for services and goods offered. Individuals wanted by the government will easily be tracked or even frozen from buying and selling (akin to what the Bible in Revelation talks about on not being able to buy or sell unless one worships the beast – an authoritarian government will want to be ‘worshiped’ for one to buy or sell anything).
How to adapt to cashless transactions
We like it or or not a 100% cashless transactions will be here – soon. The best we can do is to adapt to it faster.
There were several months I experienced close to 99% cashless transactions. My salary, as usual, came in as bank to bank transfer. With money in the bank I also transferred a good chunk of it from my bank to the bank accounts of those I pay bills to – parents for raising me up, landlady for giving me a shelter, schools for the education of my siblings, and to M-Pesa.
Money that I transferred to M-Pesa went to pay utility bills, entertainment bills, and some shopping. The main shopping was paid for by swiping the Visa card at the supermarket’s till. Then I also, as usual, transferred some amount to mama mboga’s M-Pesa so that I could be picking daily groceries as she deducts from her debit book. I usually transferred to her more than I needed to use in a month…then I have a shop whose sole function is to supply me with my daily shopping needs.
In those months, I personally hardly handled cash unless I needed to travel; something I rarely do. So like me, you can start adapting into the soon to come cashless society by:
1. Loading your M-Pesa – Always make sure you have enough money on M-Pesa, more than a thousand at any given time will be nice. Whenever you do your shopping, first ask if you can make payment via M-Pesa before using cash. The more you get used to paying for goods and services via M-Pesa, the easier it will be for you when the government demands that all services be paid for in a similar manner.
2. Encourage your friends and relatives to do the same.
3. Encourage businesses to accept M-Pesa as the default means of payment.
4. There are some people who still queue at Kenya Power et al to pay their utility bills…stop doing that immediately.
5. Avoid over the counter bank transactions like plague. Today most banks have allowed you to withdraw money to your M-Pesa account. Use your bank’s mobile money services.
I don’t want to promote the other forms of electronic payment methods since availability of so many options will only help to derail the adaptation to a cashless society.