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"Steve Perry, executive vice president of Visa Europe, has a different take on the folding stuff packed in our wallets that most of us take for granted. "Cash is expensive," he says. "We need to be using it less." Expensive? Vintage wines, maybe. Designer clothes, yes. Modern art, almost certainly. But cash? "Why do you think supermarkets introduced cashback?" Perry asks rhetorically. He has me stumped there. I tell him I always thought of it as a service for overdrawn students to drive a few more sales through the tills. "No," he responds politely. "It's because they want cash out of the system so there is less to manage. Processing a transaction on a card can be cheaper than handling cash." Perry is a leading cheerleader for the cashless society. It's hardly a surprising role, but its an argument he is finding increasingly easy to make. Last month, for example, the Payments Council announced to anguished outrage that in 2018 the cheque would be dead. "There are many more efficient ways of making payments than by paper in the 21st century, and the time is ripe for the economy as a whole to reap the benefits of its replacement," Paul Smee, chief executive of the Payments Council, said. Perry extends the same argument to cash. Notes and coins are never going to be fully replaced, he accepts. Currency has, after all, been around in some form or another since 3,000BC. But now that we're in the electronic age, payments could do with a little catching up, he reckons. Visa has recently published an extensive report on the cost of cash to society. Citing numerous independent papers by consultants and national governments, the payments company constructs a compelling case. "