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“無現金社會”對商業有害?在美國可能如此

Hikmet Ersek 2019年06月22日

西聯公司的首席執行官認為,無現金社會將使全球經濟中的相當一部分人被邊緣化,同時失去了相當一部分賺錢的機會。

在佛羅里達州熱帶球場的一場棒球比賽中,一名商販使用無現金系統完成了一筆交易。圖片來源:Mike Carlson—Getty Images

無論是在美國還是在國際上,都有越來越多的人開始爭論,在線下的面對面交易中,企業和商戶是否還有必要收現金。

美國的舊金山和費城已經明令禁止商戶拒收現金的行為,理由是這些商戶涉嫌歧視沒有銀行賬戶的低收入人群。整個新澤西州也出臺了類似規定。另外,美國國會也引入了兩項法案,擬禁止商家拒收現金的行為。

世界銀行也表示,無現金商業在國際上的興起,很可能導致新興市場國家的很多消費者和小企業被邊緣化,因為很多人可能沒有銀行賬戶,很多小商家也可能接觸不到可靠的電子支付技術。

當然,無現金經濟也有很多好處,比如安全、便利、易于開展業務等等。然而相比這些好處,更值得人擔憂的,是一個無現金的社會很可能將經濟基礎薄弱的人拋在后頭。

作為全球最大的數字和實體貨幣支付服務商之一(去年的交易額超3000美元),正方兩反的觀點我都是能聽到的。然而不管一個人對平等問題怎么看,我們都應該以更務實的角度看待這場辯論。我認為如果對無現金經濟推動得太猛、太快,對企業是有百害無一利的。如果一家企業拒絕接受現金,那就等于放棄了世界上的很多錢不賺。

事實上,目前全球的大多數貨幣交易仍然以現金形式進行。世界銀行的數據顯示,全球的小型零售企業平均每年交易的現金達19萬億美元——幾乎相當于全球 GDP的四分之一。使用現金交易的并非只有貧困人口和低收入國家。根據全球安全公司G4S的數據,在歐洲,去年所有的線下銷售有79%是通過現金交易的,較2016年的60%甚至還有所上升。

據舊金山聯邦儲備銀行計算,在美國,盡管網購市場增長迅速,但還是有77%的支付是面對面完成的,其中現金支付又占了39%。據美國聯邦存款保險公司估計,2017年,在840萬個美國家庭中,約有1400萬名成年人是“無銀行賬戶者”,也就是既沒有支票戶頭,也沒有儲蓄賬戶。

無現金聽起來是一件簡單的事情,但實際上,它需要與一張借記卡相連,或者將手機錢包與銀行賬戶相連,此外還要有必要的銷售點技術和網絡接口。目前,全球約有17億名成年人沒有可以用于支付和儲蓄的交易賬戶。換句話說,要想建成普及全球所有人的無現金經濟,目前還差得很遠。

只要在開羅或內羅比熙熙攘攘的市場上走走,就可以看出,當前的科技發展還沒有能夠滿足很多人做生意的需要。比如在肯尼亞,所謂的“無分支銀行”服務非常流行,M-Pesa移動錢包的日均交易量達到1600余萬次。但由于缺乏銷售點基礎設施,很多肯尼亞人在購買日用商品前,只能先將移動賬戶里的錢兌換成現金。

在全球范圍內,各國的經濟發展有快有慢,消費者需求和可用技術千差萬別,任何一種方法都難以迅速成為主流。

在許多國家,即使人們已經有能力在線購物,他們仍然經常需要用到現金。有鑒于此,西聯打造了一套系統,使亞洲、非洲、南美洲的消費者既能夠登錄亞馬遜進行海淘,同時又可以用當地貨幣與人面對面交易。這也給西聯帶來了很多潛在客戶,包括亞馬遜在內的一些大企業都樂于使用這套系統。

在美國,目前各地、各州乃至聯邦層面都在出臺禁止企業拒收現金行為的相關規定,這不僅引發了一場激烈的辯論,同時也讓人更加關注龐大的電子支付基礎設施。這些基礎設施花了幾十年才建立起來,為消費者在線購物、自動結算、在線預訂酒店等帶來了極大的便利性。雖然很多人認為平順的移動支付是理所應當有的,但也并非所有人都這么看。

未來只有當我們有了更多的支付選項、更多的消費選擇時,全世界的人民和企業才會迎來更多的機會。只有我們創新思考支付生態系統問題,這一切才有可能發生。另外,實體貨幣領域也是有創新空間的。比如你可以想象一下,內置了射頻識別芯片的“智能現金”,必定能夠大大提高支付的安全性,減少被偽造的機率。

金融業應該加快推進包容性創新,為消費者提供更多解決方案,不管他們屬于金融服務客戶群的上層還是底層。金融業應該以開放的心態,迎接一個現金與數字支付共存的世界。

金融、科技行業和政府部門領導人應該共同努力,重新思考支付創新的未來,首先要做的,就是要把金融的包容性作為一個核心價值。這對企業來說,不僅是唯一正確的做法,也是確保未來全面參與全球經濟的唯一途徑。(財富中文網)

本文作者賀博睿(Hikmet Ersek)是西聯公司總裁兼首席執行官。

譯者:樸成奎

There’s a growing debate across the U.S., and internationally, about whether businesses should be required to accept cash in face-to-face transactions.

San Francisco and Philadelphia have banned cashless-only retailing, arguing that such businesses discriminate against low-income people who might not have bank accounts. The entire state of New Jersey has done likewise. And two bills that would ban cashless stores have been introduced in Congress.

Meanwhile, the World Bank makes the case that the international rise of cashless commerce threatens to marginalize too many consumers and small businesses in emerging-market countries because people may not have bank accounts and merchants may not have access to reliable electronic payment technology.

There are compelling security, convenience, and business arguments for going cashless, of course. But such benefits would not outweigh the cost to society of leaving economically vulnerable people behind.

As CEO of one of the world’s largest digital and physical money movers (over $300 billion last year), I can see both sides of the cashless debate. But regardless of one’s view on inequality, there’s also a more pragmatic way to frame the debate. Pushing too hard and too fast toward a cashless economy is simply bad for business. If a company refuses to take cash, that leaves a lot of the world’s money on the table.

The fact is much of the world’s money still changes hands as cash. Data from the World Bank shows that small retailers transact $19 trillion in cash a year—nearly one-fourth of global GDP. And that’s not just in poor neighborhoods or low-income countries. In Europe, according to the global security company G4S, an estimated 79% of all point-of-sale transactions were conducted in cash last year—which was actually up from 60% in 2016.

In the U.S., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has calculated, even as online shopping continues to grow, 77% of payments are made in person, with cash accounting for 39% of the volume. And the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation estimated that in 2017, 14 million adults in 8.4 million U.S. households were “unbanked”—lacking a checking or savings account.

Going cashless sounds simple but, in reality, it requires access to a debit card or mobile wallet linked to a bank account, and the necessary point-of-sale technology and network access for businesses. Around 1.7 billion adults globally do not have access to a transaction account that can be used to receive payments and make deposits. In other words, the world is still a long way from having a completely cashless economy that would function for everyone.

All it takes is a walk through a bustling market in Cairo or Nairobi to see technology’s failure to accommodate the way many people want to do business. In Kenya, where so-called branchless banking is broadly available, and 16 million transactions happen daily on the M-Pesa mobile wallet, consumers still must often convert to cash before they can pay for many daily goods because the point-of-sale infrastructure simply isn’t there.

The global economy and the global spectrum of customer needs and accessible technologies are too varied to try to move too fast on any one approach.

In many countries, even where people have the ability to make online purchases, they often still need to need to pay for them in cash. That is why Western Union created systems enabling tens of millions of consumers across Asia, Africa, and South America to shop on Amazon’s website globally and pay in-person in the local currency. That’s a lot of new potential customers—business that companies like Amazon are happy to have.

Here in the U.S., efforts at the local, state, and (now) federal level to ban cashless commerce have spurred a healthy debate and are making people more mindful of the gigantic electronic payment infrastructure that has been built behind the scenes in recent decades to enable conveniences like online shopping, automatic bill paying, and online hotel bookings. While many take these frictionless payments for granted, not everyone enjoys that privilege.

A future with more payment options and more consumer choices is a future of vastly expanded opportunities for the world’s people and businesses. But it can happen only if we demand new ways of thinking about the payments ecosystem. There’s even room for innovation in physical currency, too: Imagine issuing smart cash embedded with RFID chips that would improve security and reduce counterfeiting.

The financial industry should step up to more inclusive innovation and offer consumers solutions regardless of where they live on the financial-services spectrum, and embrace the complexity of a world where cash and digital payments coexist far into the future.

Leaders from the financial, technology, and government sectors need to come together and rethink the future of payments innovation, starting with financial inclusion as a core value. It’s not only the right thing to do—for businesses, it’s the only way to ensure full participation in the global economy.

Hikmet Ersek is president and CEO of The Western Union Company.

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