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The people to know who know about money

Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
How to find eye-popping data about money.
By John Detrixhe
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Want to know how much the US spends each year on its notes and coins? (More than $1 billion.) Percentage of South Koreans’ non-cash transactions? (Around 86%.)

There’s no shortage of information about money. A good place to start is Quartz. If you’ve read our articles, charts, interviews, and essays on the future of cash and still want more, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a highly curated list of resources you can turn to if you want to stay on top of this fast-moving topic. Ready to go further down this rabbit hole? Follow us.

The analysts, economists, and researchers you should know

Deutsche Bank analyst Heike Mai‘s deeply researched, at times contrarian, reports have tantalizing titles like Cash, Freedom, and Crime.

William RoberdsJames McAndrews, and Charles M. Kahn are among current and former Federal Reserve economists who have written persuasively about the unintended consequences of a future cashless society.

Niklas Arvidsson and Jonas Hedman are experts on the demonetization taking place in Sweden and Denmark.

Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette is a sell-side authority on the big payment companies, from Square to Stripe and Visa and Mastercard.

JP Koning’s Moneyness blog publishes some of the most creative (and popular) thinking on cash, crypto tokens, and central banks. On Twitter he’s @jp_koning

Ursula Dalinghaus, a professor at Ripon College, looks at money from an anthropological perspective and questions whether cash is really linked to crime.

Rui Zhong, a program assistant at the Kissinger Institute on China and the US, monitors Chinese media for opinions (popular and official) on the nation’s increasingly cashless society.

Forrester senior analyst Xiaofeng Wang dives deep on Chinese tech and payment trends.

The reports you should look at

The Bank for International Settlements report, Payments are a-changin’ but cash still rules, is widely cited for global payment trends.

The G4S world cash report is also a classic of the genre. But it’s worth remembering that the source of the information is a cash handling and security company. For data from the other perspective, see Worldpay’s report. The world payments report by Capgemini and BNP Paribas is another frequently cited study.

For more international statistics, Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff keeps links to data used in The Curse of Cash here. The International Monetary Fund has also studied the macroeconomics of de-cashing.

China Internet Network Information Center’s statistical report on internet development in China has essential data on online payments and mobile device proliferation in the world’s biggest economy.

For eurozone data, try the European Central Bank’s report on the use of cash by households in the euro area. Some notable European but non-euro reports are Sweden’s detailed payment statistics portal, and Switzerland’s survey on payment methods.

The Bundesbank started publishing its payment behavior studies in 2008.  Trends emanating from the world’s most cash-intensive developed market economy could be a signal for what the rest of the globe should expect. Also see “Cash is minted freedom.”

In the US, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s diary of consumer payments has data on the transformation from paper to electronic money. There are some older surveys here. 

The books you should read

Jack Weatherford tells a winding tale of cash in The History of Money. He writes that the virtual economy and electronic money “promises to make its own version of civilization that will be as different from the modern world as from the world of the Aztecs or the Vikings.”

Eric Jackson’s The PayPal Wars is an account of perhaps the first fintech startup, and the (mostly) 20-somethings that brought internet commerce into the 21st century.

Kenneth Rogoff’s The Curse of Cash is a seminal account of cash and its use in the underground economy, and has been widely cited in research since it was published in 2016. It contains a roadmap for de-cashing developed economies and the reasons for doing it. 

New York Times journalist Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold is an account of the early days of bitcoin. It details the cypher punks who came up with the software and cryptography behind digital tokens. On Twitter he’s @nathanielpopper.

The journalists and news articles you should check out

Financial Times editor Patrick Jenkins covers banking and financial services. He wrote “We don’t take cash”: is this the future of money?, a comprehensive long read about money.  

The Guardian has regular coverage of becoming cashless in Stockholm, such as ‘Being cash-free puts us at risk of attack’: Swedes turn against cashlessness.

The South China Morning Post is a go to for coverage of Alipay and Wechat.

Quartz’s Why Germans pay cash for almost everything was published in 2014 and defines the money-is-culture journalism canon.

Also at Quartz: Dan Kopf creates stunning data visualization and teases out the numbers on cash and coins. Look to Nupur Anand for payments in India, Abdi Latif Dahir for money in Africa, and, me, John Detrixhe for Quartz’s future of finance.

An oldie but a goodie from Wired is E-money (That’s what I want), a mid-1990s chronicle of tech companies’ efforts to create digital cash. For payment startups, see this Wired interview with Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, and another about the company he runs. (Collison posts a plethora of recommended reads, podcasts, and ideas on Twitter: @patrickc, as does his brother John Collison: @collision.)