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Cash ‘on the Verge of Collapse’ While Bitcoin Transactions Near Record Highs

Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:18 PM
Ben Brown
Last Updated March 4, 2021 3:18 PM

A new report  claims that cash is “on the verge of collapse” in the UK, with cash transactions expected to almost vanish in the next decade.

Meanwhile, bitcoin transaction volume is surging towards an all-time high and mainstream vendors like Starbucks and Krogers are considering methods of cryptocurrency payments.

The outdated cash infrastructure is set to be eclipsed. And bitcoin is positioning itself to replace it.

Cash Is “on the Verge of Collapse”

The UK report, titled Access to Cash Review, says the country’s cash system will become almost obsolete in the next 15 years. It comes as digital payments overtook cash for the first time in the UK last year.

Almost 400 cash ATMs are shut down every month  in Britain and hundreds of bank branches have closed their doors. Contrast that to the 100% rise in bitcoin ATMs in the UK last year.

Bitcoin ATM growth UK
The number of Bitcoin ATMs in the UK doubled in 2018. Source: CoinATMRadar

Some British retailers and vendors already refuse to accept cash for many reasons. It’s a huge burden to cash up every day and take money to the bank. Cash is slower to process and easier for employees to steal. Storing cash on site also means higher insurance premiums.

Digital money is faster, safer, and cheaper. The shift is inevitable.

Cash is “Practically Unheard of” in China

The UK is following in the footsteps of China and Sweden which are quickly becoming the first cashless societies.

In Sweden, less than 1% of all payment value takes place in cash . Even public restrooms are digital-only. 

In China, the rapid rise of WeChat and Alipay payments means cash is “practically unheard of ” in urban areas. Even street buskers hold out QR codes to accept tips and payments.

Bitcoin Transactions Near Record Highs

While cash payments are tumbling, bitcoin is surging. According to Blockchain data , bitcoin hit 367,000 daily transactions on February 28th. That puts it at similar levels to December 2017’s bitcoin frenzy, and just short of its all-time high.

Bitcoin transaction volume
Bitcoin transaction volume is back near its 2017 high. Source: Blockchain

As Etoro’s senior market analyst Matti Greenspan told Bloomberg :

“What I’ve been watching lately are the number of transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain and the total volumes across crypto exchanges, both of which are holding at their highest levels in more than a year…Even though we’re still officially in a bear market there is plenty of cause for optimism.”

Mainstream Bitcoin Payments are Coming

The bitcoin transaction volume is supported by strong mainstream interest in crypto payments. As CCN.com reported, Starbucks has just clarified its plans on its rumored bitcoin acceptance:

“Our role as the flagship retailer for Bakkt is to consult and develop applications for customers to convert their digital assets into US dollars, which can then be used in our stores.”

In other words, Starbucks may soon accept bitcoin with into US dollars. Elsewhere, US grocery store Kroger has ditched Visa credit card payments and is reportedly considering bitcoin payments via the lightning network.

Powered by the Lightning Network?

As a future payment system, bitcoin has always been plagued by criticisms over speed and fees. But the infrastructure for fast, cheap cryptocurrency payments is growing rapidly.

As CCN.com reported, the Lightning Network recently opened up record capacity and reported the lowest transaction fees in three years. The second-layer solution for fast bitcoin micropayments is the groundwork for enormous bitcoin payment scaling.

The era of cash is over. The era of bitcoin is just beginning.