Capgemini’s annual payments survey showed
the war on cash is being lost at a global level, with cash in
circulation outstripping non-cash payments by 2 percentage points
in 2008.

Non-cash payments grew by 9 percent, compared
to cash, which increased by 11 percent. Bertrand Lavayssière,
managing director of global financial services for Capgemini, a
consultancy, was at a loss to explain why.

“There are certain countries in Europe –
Italy, Spain and Germany – which prefer cash for cultural reasons,”
he said.

“Why cash is growing more quickly we do not
know – but we usually see it growing most in the same regions and

Lavayssière said the main beneficiaries of a
shift from cash to electronic payments were banks and retailers,
but said notes and coins clearly remained practical for

“Maybe this will change with the focus on
reducing low-value transactions, and the development of e-wallets,”
he added.

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The main highlights from the Capgemini report
were on the growth of non-cash payments and the impacts of
increasing regulation on the payments industry. In addition,
Lavayssière said bankers need to “wake up and take into account
that the industry is changing quickly”.

In particular, they need to focus on replacing
revenue streams lost in the financial crisis and investing in
systems to comply with SEPA deadlines, expected to be announced by
the European Commission this month.