Back to the complete issue
Sunday, 9 October 2016

Imagining a cashless society

The hows and whys of countries going cashless: Nathan Heller’s profile in The New Yorker on how Sweden has transitioned to an increasingly cashless society must read like black magic or science fiction to some in Egypt, or at the very least a remote possibility that is very far off for our own country. However, an argument could clearly be made that Egypt’s need to consciously begin a similar transition is pressing — perhaps more so than other countries. Almost 90% of the population is unbanked, corruption traffics in cash payments, and tax evasion is a way of life. Former chief economist at the IMF Kenneth S. Rogoff argues in his new book that the United States should make more of a deliberate effort to become cashless, starting by phasing out large bills and allowing smaller denominations to fall out of use.

“Rogoff argues that the invisible large notes [80% of the US’ currency supply is in hundred USD bills, with USD 1.34 tn outside the banking system at any given moment] must be paying off-the-book wages. They are sitting in Zurich safe-deposit boxes, probably, crossing borders with cartels and traffickers, and doing other awful things… A mn [USD] in hundred USD bills is easy to tote in a shopping bag, but a mn in USD 10 bills weighs an ungainly two hundred and twenty pounds. Hobbling the underground market should also temper tax evasion, a costlier problem than many people realize.” (Read Imagining a cashless world)

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.