Concepción, Colombia, gets rid of cash payments in pilot scheme
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Concepción, Colombia, gets rid of cash payments in pilot scheme

Money might make the world go round, but one small Colombian town has decided to get rid of cash completely.

Concepción, nestled in the hills of Colombia’s Antioquia department has 4,500 inhabitants, a two hour drive on a dirt track from the city of Medellín.

The town has only recently gained a cash machine, as more than half of the adult population owned a bank account. Only two commercial establishments take card payments, El Pais reports.

Nestled in the hills. Credit: BluRadio

Nestled in the hills.
Credit: BluRadio

Concepción has overtaken Denmark, which plans to get rid cash payments in businesses across the country if a 2016 government bill is passed.

It is also the first town in Colombia to stop using cash payments.

Residents will now make payments through using their cell phones, in a pilot scheme backed by the Banking Association, the Opportunities Bank and Davivienda Bank.

Safety first

Safety isn’t usually an issue in this tiny town, freed from the guerrilla several years ago. Still, Mayor Gustavo López was almost robbed just days before the town began the scheme on July 9.

“The robbers thought that they could get away with it as the money is managed through my cell phone, but even if they had robbed me, my accounts would have been safe,” López commented.

Ten days on and newspaper El Tiempo reports a success story.

Concepción, Antioquía. Photo: El Tiempo

Concepción, Antioquía. Photo: El Tiempo

“Extraordinary results,”

“The results from this pilot scheme are extraordinary, what we have achieved during this time period by making Concepción’s residents use different payment forms, as alternatives to cash, has made very positive steps.  The idea is to be able to replicate this experience in other towns across the country,” Davivienda President Efraín Forero Fonseca commented.

The pilot scheme is now set to be rolled out in other communities.

“It’s been a very enriching experience, residents in Concepción have really liked it, they are only using their cell phones to make payments, zero cash,” José Alejandro Cortés President of the Bolívar Banking Group (to which Davivienda belongs) added.

Until the scheme is rolled out nationwide, Concepción’s residents will be swotting up on their tech skills as cash looks to be a thing of the past.