This Colombian town is trying to get rid of cash — but it’s not so easy
Thursday, July 30, 2015
CONCEPCION, Colombia — A group of armed bandits recently ambushed and robbed the mayor of this small town, but they didn’t get much for their effort.
The thieves shot at Mayor Gustavo Lopez’s car as he drove into town, forcing him to stop and empty his pockets at gunpoint.
“They took my wallet, but I didn’t have much cash in it,” Lopez told me over a coffee in his modest office. “They also took my cellphone, but they couldn’t retrieve the money I had in there.”
That’s because Lopez uses mobile money, a technology that is quickly growing in Colombia and other parts of the developing world. His town of 5,000 is trying to become the first in Latin America to entirely phase out cash and rely solely on digital currency.
For this mountain town, accessible only by unpaved road, switching to digital currency is not about being hip, it’s about being practical.