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Is Cash Still King?

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Is Cash Still King?

Reviewing the Rise of Mobile Payments

Brookings Institution,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Cash is king, but is it heading for checkmate?

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Overview
  • Background


As the use of mobile payments increases, the role of cash in people’s lives is under examination in America. In this astute article, policy expert Aaron Klein explores recent developments in payment systems and offers some hard realities about their access, costs and benefits. Along with its linked Congressional testimony, this paper provides eye-opening reading for financial professionals and anyone interested in the future of payment technologies.


The demand for cash in the United States continues to grow.

Contrary to expectations, young adults use cash just as much as people over the age of 65 do. Most individuals still prefer to use physical money when paying for their daily purchases of less than $25. Between 2010 and 2020, the volume of low-denomination bills in circulation, from ones to twenties, increased at a regular pace. 

Minorities and those who live in rural areas rely on cash to make purchases, and a large proportion of American households remains underbanked or unbanked. 

Mobile payment applications are the...

About the Author

Aaron Klein is the policy director of the Brookings Institution’s Center on Regulations and Markets. 

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