The Netherlands seems to be a front line in the European war on cash and it is the retailers who are leading the charge. Here, for example, is a pharmacy that no longer accepts cash: Twitter crowdsourced translation of the sign is that “From 1 Oct 2010 onwards, payments can only be made using debit cards – this for the security of our employees”. This is an interesting new development: a skirmish between cash and cards that is based on something other than merchant costs. I understand that the local government wants to make one of the major shopping streets in Amsterdam “Ferdinand Bolstraat” cash free. In the south of the country is Almere, which the mayor would like to see as Europe’s first cash-free town. I see that

Pinnen en winnen is een actie van Cashless Almere, een samenwerkingsverband van winkeliers- en ondernemersverenigingen, banken, Currence (merkeigenaar PIN), Koninklijke Horeca Nederland afdeling Almere, politie en gemeente. Deze partijen werken samen aan het verminderen van contant geld in de winkels en horeca. Dit verkleint de kans op overvallen.

[From Burgemeester van Almere]

According to Google, this means that “PINs and winning is an action of Cashless Almere, an association of retailers and trade associations, Currence (brand owner PIN), Koninklijke Horeca Netherlands Almere department, police and council”. It says that they are working together “to reduce cash in the shops and restaurants” because this reduces the risk of robbery. Something that may help them in this goal is the arrival of mobile payments, because there are probably the most significant step on the road to cashlessness.

Rabobank, ING and ABN Amro; and telcos: KPN, Vodafone Netherlands and Rabo Mobiel; are considering offering customers contactless payment, loaded onto SIM cards in NFC phones.

[From Dutch Banks and Telcos Consider NFC Mobile-Payment Launch | NFC Times – Near Field Communication and all contactless technology.]

There are many unique aspects to the Dutch electronic payments landscape: they still use an electronic purse (but only for parking) and they have the iDEAL internet payment scheme, which has been wildly successful in replacing the cards for online purchases.

Half of all online shoppers in the Netherlands use IDEAL, a bank-oriented payment system that started in 2005. To effect an IDEAL payment, the consumer is directed back to their own bank where they log in using bank authentication and authorize the payment. Then are then seamlessly directed back to the merchant. The system is popular with merchants because it delivers immediate payment (customers cannot charge back the payment) with bank security, and customers like it because they do not need another secure, two-factor or other complex log in. To date, there has been no reported fraud through the system.

[From Digital Money: Is this the iDEAL third scheme?]

Another unique aspect of the Dutch market is that the banks and the operators co-operate with each. In September, this agreement to “consider” NFC payments had firmed up to the announcement that the “six pack” (as they have rather bizarrely been called) are going to go ahead and launch a service.

T-Mobile, Vodafone, KPN, ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank have signed a letter of intent to jointly introduce NFC across the Netherlands from 2012.

[From Dutch banks and mobile operators to launch national NFC service • NFC World]

As an aside, I can’t resist noting that there is also a peculiarly Dutch answer to another question: which retailers won’t be accepting mobile, contactless, EMV or any other electronic payments? The answer is Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops, where bankers gather to develop new financial services products. These coffee shops are being pressured to start accepting cards so that more of their operations are on the books. This is, of course, a good idea. People like me wouldn’t feel so bad about paying their taxes if they felt that everyone else was paying theirs. But the coffee shops, tolerated under the Dutch system, have a supply chain chain that is not. The wholesalers, so to speak, have expressed a marked reluctance to be paid by SEPA credit transfer.

It’s this sort of thing that makes me love my job.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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