If cash is not yet officially dead, it is not far away from extinction.
The modern world has done away with notes and coins and replaced them with a range of digital methods of paying for our goods, services and bills. This means we can conduct transactions across the globe1and it gives us the freedom to choose from a range of digital payment options.
Here are the pros and cons to the leading platforms on the market.
There are over 17 million smartphones in Australia today with that number expected to spike to over 19 million by 2022. With that many devices in the hands of the general population, it makes sense that they should be used as a device for cashless payments. Using near-field communication (NFC) technology, smartphones can be used as a payment tool when pressed up against a tap and go reader.
Pros: This cardless payment method is fast – simply swipe your phone and keep moving. It is secure as well, as your information is not stored at the point of sale and use a one-time token that is useless to a hacker even if they managed to access it. In the physical sense, your card details are safe on your phone as long as password or biometric protection has been applied to that device (if you haven't secured your phone, you should do that today, now).
Cons: It doesn't always work. Older ‘tap and go’ devices may not read your device. Not every smartphone is capable of this function either, so make sure the device you are purchasing has NFC if you want this option. There are some privacy concerns too, as your phone leaves a digital footprint at every transaction point.
Bank transfers are one of the oldest and most familiar digital payment methods in the internet era. Using internet banking you can transfer funds to friends, family, businesses, government agencies and much more while also keeping tabs on your accounts and balances.
Pros: You are protected by the security measures of your bank and all transactions are documented by your banking institution.
Cons: It can take days for money to transfer, although the rollout of the New Payments Platform in Australia is aiming to make this process near instant in a bid to keep pace with mobile payments.
One of the original digital payment disruptors and one of the leading payment apps in Australia, PayPal offers a secure way of paying that protects both the buyer and the seller.
Pros: The security levels are high, with sellers and consumers able to get their funds back if the transaction goes sour.
Cons: There are high fees involved with PayPal, especially for sellers.
The newest form of digital payment is a peer-to-peer currency that operates independently of a central bank. The big-named ones – like bitcoin – have become well-known, but there are nearly 2000 different cryptos on the market... and rising.
Pros: Every transaction is logged, which makes it extremely secure. Because banks are eliminated from the process, fees are very low.
Cons: Market value of crypto coins are still unstable and volatile. It can be difficult to find businesses that accept crypto as a form of payment.
BPAY is an Australian-only electronic bill payment system linked to your online banking. Users are issued unique codes and can have their bills issued to their online account for instant payment.
Pros: This simplifies the bill paying process, saving you time and ensuring you are on top of the utilities.
Cons: While the process seems instant, the transaction can take days to process. Not every company accepts BPAY.
Liven is a rewards system for diners in Australia, allowing customers to earn LivenCoin (LVN) – a cryptocurrency – with every purchase they make using the app at a participating venue. There are over 700 venues in Sydney and Melbourne within the community, and over 180,000 people have signed up for the app. With every purchase, customers earn LVN which they can use to purchase food and drink, donate to charity or gift to friends and family.
Pros: Customers are rewarded simply for eating and drinking – with more food and drink. It also provides a platform to be charitable, to either those in need or for hungry friends. For vendors, this is a way they can allow customers to pay with a cryptocurrency without having to change their operations. The rewards system also invites more customers through the door and promotes word of mouth.
Cons: Only available in Australia, at this stage.