In the United States, we're old-fashioned in a lot of ways — not least because we don't want to give up our greenbacks, our Benjamins, and our collectible 50-state quarters. But around the world, cash is falling by the wayside. If you want to fit in abroad, get with the times and lean into digital payments.
Visa (yup, the credit card company) certainly has an interest in releasing its Cashless Cities Report, along with an admittedly cool interactive feature showing how digital payments could transform American cities. But the data is legit, and some of the extrapolations are interesting. Per the report, it actually costs more to use cash than digital methods like apps and credit cards. Crimes involving cash grabs could drop precipitously, and government spending could become more efficient by orders of magnitude.
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To create a baseline, researchers looked at 100 cities around the world and rated their "digital maturity," how well the infrastructure supported alternatives to cash payments. Places like Sydney, Stockholm, Toronto, and London were scored as "digital leaders"; only five U.S. cities — San Francisco, Chicago, New York, D.C., and Austin, Texas — came close, as "digitally advanced." Similar cities abroad include Tel Aviv, Berlin and Singapore.
A 2016 BuzzFeed investigation may have driven this home, when tech reporter Charlie Warzel got a chip implanted in his hand to try out this "frictionless future." (It wasn't easy.) And cash still reigns in a lot of travel destinations, like Mexico City or Phnom Penh. But for a lot of countries in Europe, Canada, and Australasia, don't worry so much about buying currency — your credit card or mobile app should get you where you need to go.