Going Cashless or Going Paperless?
Scott Heric

How business has been conducted has shifted significantly in the past few years, and it has accelerated even more recently. The economy is quickly changing to one dependent less on the paper currency that has been the foundation of transactions for many years and more invested in transferring financial data between parties. And while some have been skeptical about fully embracing these trends, their benefits for businesses and consumers should not be ignored.

The movement recently has been towards a cashless economy, but it has gone beyond that — our economy is quickly becoming entirely paperless. That means not only are we eliminating paper currency, such as the US Dollar bill, but we are also ridding ourselves of any form of transaction that involves currency changing hands, including paper checks. It’s a transition that will lead to numerous benefits for both consumers and businesses.

A big part of the movement towards a paperless economy has been driven by the negative environmental impacts of paper transactions. From checks to cash, that’s a lot of waste being produced every year due to paper transactions. The carbon footprint of electronic payments is minimal to nonexistent, so for those customers who are more eco-conscious, focusing exclusively on electronic commerce could be a significant draw for your business.

This paperless trend is good for business in more ways than one. A great thing about paperless transactions is that they make accounting significantly easier. Merchants no longer have to balance their register at the end of the night, having a list of precisely documented and conducted transactions. And paperless transactions also eliminate the potential for human error. Whereas it can be easy to miscount cash in transactions or even fall victim to counterfeit bills, paperless transactions are generally more reliable.

One of the main benefits to both businesses and consumers of going paperless is that it reduces the risk of loss. If your wallet is stolen and full of paper cash, that money is just lost. On the other hand, if you are primarily losing debit and credit cards, you can contact the bank to put a freeze on your accounts, and certain protections help reverse fraudulent charges.

The other safety benefits of paperless transactions are evident. The past two years have shown businesses that our traditional way of processing paper transactions isn’t the most sanitary. Paper money transitions through so many hands and is rarely, if ever, disinfected. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses shifted away from paper transactions to reduce touchpoints for their employees’ and customers’ health.

However, paperless transactions are also much more convenient and efficient for businesses. An electronic transaction takes one to two seconds compared to the six or seven for a paper transaction. Cashiers no longer have to count out change to give back to the customer — it’s just swipe, sign, and go. It’s an overall better system for the business despite the transaction fee because it permits more transactions to be conducted in less time.

And in our increasingly mobile society, new forms of payment are becoming dominant, like e-commerce and mobile payment options. Some people aren’t even using physical debit or credit cards these days. Instead, they use a virtual wallet on their phones. It’s convenient for consumers because they can keep their pockets empty except for their phones, and it’s convenient for merchants because it is an intuitive and quick tap-and-go system.

Change can be intimidating, especially when it involves something as precious as our hard-earned money. However, using paperless transactions offers much more protection, both for the consumer and the business. Born out of convenience and expanded out of need, the reality of paperless transactions is that they are better in pretty much every way for every person involved.

Scott Heric is the Co-Founder of Unionly. He was born and raised in Seattle. He helped develop sales and account management for Avvo, growing from 30 to 500 people over 7 years. After Avvo, Scott took a Chief of Staff role at Snap Advance, which at the time was part of a company called Snap Mobile Inc. For over 4 years he oversaw development of the product, marketing, sales, and account management, leading to the company being the leading digital fundraising platform in higher education. Having worked on the concept for Unionly for over 3 years and after being acquired in January of 2020, Scott began to really think about making Unionly a reality and in April of 2020, that dream came true.