Visa is Betting on Businesses, Not Consumers, to Win the War on Cash

The war on cash is resurging, but this time companies are more focused on other companies than they are on changing consumer behavior.

The campaigners against cash have long included companies like Visa and Mastercard, which each offer their own incentives for consumers to move to digital methods of payment. However, cash (and consumers) are being a bit stubborn.

Efforts like Visa’s cashless challenge approach the problem from a different angle. The challenge, launched last week, is designed to get smaller U.S. businesses (for this challenge, it’s owners of restaurants, food trucks, or cafes) to upgrade their ability to take digital payments.

Jack Forestell, head of global merchant sales and solutions for Visa, told Bank Innovation in an emailed statement:

… The reason Visa is spearheading a cashless culture is to create great experiences for merchants and consumers alike. We are leading the pack in pushing for a cashless culture because we believe digital payments represent convenience, security, and ease of use.

This translates to freedom for consumers and merchants alike. Freedom from carrying cash, freedom from fraud, and freedom from cumbersome payment experiences.

More and more IoT devices are coming online “every day,” Forestell said, making it easier and easier for connected commerce to thrive.

When it comes to business, there’s the obvious cost benefit — per city, businesses could experience net benefits of $312 billion, according to Forestell — but of course, they first have to implement the necessary technology.

As incentive, Visa is turning to the tactic that normally works with consumers: rewards. Visa will shell out a total of $500,000 to 50 restaurants (so, $10,000 per business) that agree to do away with cash, once and for all in their business.

That should help solve the biggest hurdle towards getting consumers to make digital payments (having the ability to do so in a physical location), but for Visa, this is one continuous step forward towards a future already set.

About 70% of the world will be connected by mobile device in three years, according to a Cisco study, which means businesses have to be ready.

Forestell said via email:

Today, more than ever before, we are finding ourselves in the middle of digital revolution, led by ‘always-on’ connected consumers. This rapid rate of change is bringing our industry together closer than ever before.

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