Fletcher in the News

Cash Costs Americans $200 Billion a Year: CNBC Speaks with Dean Chakravorti Speaks About IBGC Study

Bhaskar Chakravorti is a Senior Associate Dean at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

Electronic payments by phone, card and computer continue to gain market share. And yet millions of Americans keep using cash.

Some lack an alternative because they don't have a checking account. Some value the privacy of cash transactions or the psychological security of knowing that cash is always accepted. For some families, using cash is cheaper than credit and helps them control their spending.

But there is a cost to using cash, in both time and money, that's not always considered. Those costs include fees to use a check-cashing service, withdraw from a non-network ATM or access wages loaded onto a payroll card.

A new study by [The Fletcher School at] Tufts University, The Cost of Cash in the United States, puts the price tag at $200 billion a year for consumers and businesses. The cost of cash is about $1,739 a year for the average family.

"Obviously, cash is never going to go away—it's an important part of the economy," said study co-author Bhaskar Chakravorti, executive director of the Institute for Business in a Global Context at [The Fletcher School at] Tufts. "But we need to recognize the costs it's imposing, both real costs and opportunity costs."

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