Asia Minute: Less Cash in the Wallet?

Apr 18, 2019

Credit Christina Johnson / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

How much cash do you carry? For many people, the answer to that question has changed over time. And in parts of Asia, it’s changing at different speeds.

When it comes to cash, what’s in your wallet? Worldwide, the answer is changing – faster in some places than in others.

The Bank of Korea is out with a study this week finding the average citizen there carries the equivalent of about 70 U.S. dollars in cash — that’s down by a third from just five years ago. By comparison, a survey last year from Money Magazine found 42% of Americans carry forty dollars or less in cash — while another third carry up to a hundred in cash.

Late last year, the Japanese government put together a report called “Cashless Vision.” Using data from the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements and other sources, it estimated more than 89% of purchases in South Korea were paid for by methods other than cash.

For China, the rate was 60%, while for Japan it was less than 20%.

There are several reasons that governments and financial institutions favor a movement away from cash. It’s cheaper to deal with electronic transfers of money. And for governments, it improves transparency of money flows, and the ability to collect taxes.

Japan’s government wants its residents to double their digital payments over the next eight years so that 40% of all transactions will be cashless by the year 2027.