While the launch of the Cashless plan to discourage the use of cash is expected in Italy on 1 December, in France we are witnessing the gradual disappearance of banknote machines. Within the confines of Italy it is not difficult to find ATMs, as it is part of our daily life to use and listen to the phrase “I’m going to make an ATM”. However, it does not go the same way for our cousins from across the Alps, who in order to get some tickets for ten, twenty and fifty euros, must arm themselves with a good dose of patience and search around the blocks (and sometimes for the neighborhoods of the city) a terminal. In addition to this, to irreversibly tilt society towards the “zero cash” route, came the experience of the lockdown, even if – it must be said – the French had begun to appreciate electronic payment already in the last two or three years.
In fact, withdrawals were recently recording a historical decline, of about 4% per year, as reported by the newspaper Nice morning. With the quarantine, the percentage of purchases made by the French with alternative methods to physical money has gone from 38% before the pandemic to 45% from phase-one onwards, according to the Bank Card Group. To encourage this new habit there was also the raising of the limit of the use of the contactless method to 50 euros. This situation, moreover, is part of the context detected in the autumn by the ECB, according to which one third of payments in the euro area are no longer made in cash. In France, in particular, theaddition (the “account” in Italian) in the points of sale is paid in cash only in 28% of cases (Banque de France data), while for the remaining 72% credit and debit cards, apps or, finally, bank transfers are used.
In France ATMs cannot be found because they are expensive for banks
Perhaps not many in Italy remember it, but one of the strong claims of the gods Yellow vests (the Yellow Vests) was precisely to save DAB (automatic banknote dispensers in French), since banks have been doing it for some time and are suppressing at least 2% a year. Not only in small villages and citadels, but also in large towns. Why? “The main reason is that the insurance for these ATMs is very high,” explains ad HuffPost a banker who has been operating in the country for almost thirty years. “So because customers like to use cashless methods, we combine our need to cut excessive spending with the new mores of society.”
But, in this sense, do the government and the banks wink at each other? It is clear how much, from a conversion point of view cahsless, the systematic disappearance of DABs may be as effective as Machiavellian. For now it is not known, even our interlocutor does not answer, but the trend seems clear to him: “It practically happens the same in Sweden and in Great Britain”, he says, hinting at a lightning movement with his shoulders. In Great Britain, however, there is still a hard core of cash lovers, 17%, who, going out without a rustling purse, feel uneasy. Nice morning). What we are talking about might seem a trivial matter, but in some municipalities of France the mayors have to fight not to close the last garrison for the finding of the remaining cash, considering that both the elderly and people with socio-economic situations precarious still remain linked to the use of cash (and checks, still very popular there). “If you notice – continues the banker in his reasoning – in France self-service checkouts proliferate in supermarkets, a sign that the population is culturally accepting the conversion to cashless and many citizens are launching petitions in favor of zero cash company as a definitive answer to the fight against tax evasion “.
Shopkeepers try to impose cashless for health reasons, but it is prohibited
The closures of the DABs somehow clash with the obligation on the part of traders to accept cash (under penalty of a fine of 150 euros), even if a phenomenon of a certain gravity is spreading: according to the French Federation of Trust Companies many sellers refuse cash payments. The reason? It is often written on large signs in which the Covid excuse is given, of the need for health. But it is not acceptable, because the merchant is still required to accept traditional money. Moreover, there is no scientific proof of the danger of transmission, also because the virus on paper is very resistant, unlike what happens on plastic and metal surfaces. In any case, some central banks, such as South Korea and Kuwait, prefer to sterilize the money or put it in quarantine.
Swoop withdrawals after lockdown
As we said at the beginning, the pandemic emergency has changed habits all over the world, facilitating the use of alternative instruments to cash. In France, according to the findings of the Banque de France, as reported by The world, between the beginning and the end of the closing period, banknote withdrawals decreased by 50% in volume and 40% in value and since the reopening of the shops the number of ATM transactions is still very small. Compared to last year there was a reduction of 10% in value and 20% in volume.
In Italy we start with a 10% refund for those who pay cashless
In our country, ATMs still exist, but the main road towards the abandonment of cash has been drawn. The current government took a significant step in July, with the new limit on liquid use at € 2,000. From 1 December, as required by the August Decree, the “State cashback” is on the way, a refund of 10% on live shopping (not online) with a traceable means of payment: credit or debit cards, ATMs, wire transfers banking, but also with smartphone apps such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Satispay. Maximum expenditure ceiling, 3,000 euros per year for a maximum reimbursement of 300. For the plan to become operational, however, the implementing decree of the Mef and the green light of the Privacy Guarantor are needed. From there, Conte’s Cashless project also includes 50 million euros in prizes with the Lottery of Receipts and the 3,000-euro “super cashback”, with the aim of bridging the Italian gap on the e-payment front, mainly due, according to a survey by The European House – Ambrosetti on the costs of use, the greater exposure to possible fraud and the difficulties of acceptance by merchants.