According to a report published in 2019, it’s possible that the world could see its first cashless society by as early as 2023. This would mean that, in less than five years’ time, there could be places on earth where the only way to pay is via card or some form of digital alternative.
For the tech sphere, this could have many far-reaching consequences, changing its role in society in an unprecedented way. Turning technology into not only a tool for streamlining our lives and making them easier, but also the very foundation of the banking system, it’s a switch so fundamental that it can be difficult to imagine.
However, it’s not as sci-fi as it sounds. In fact, there are already places where physical money is quickly disappearing, including Sweden, which the study cites as being the first society that looks set to become truly cashless.
Already, cash payments represent only 15 percent of their country-wide retail transactions, down from 40 percent six years earlier. Similar trends have been noted across the globe, due in large part to the increasing prevalence of contactless payments and mobile solutions such as Apple and Google Pay.
This leads to an interesting question: if cash is to disappear completely, what sort of alternative options might fill the void it leaves behind? Here are a few that look likely to supersede it.
Contactless payments and the tech that supports them are nothing new. Emerging from around 2007 onwards, they slowly but surely began to replace the more prevalent chip-and-pin options that preceded them, and now account for almost all of the purchases made by debit card in the UK and US.
What’s especially significant about this is not only that they represent a large number of card payments, but that debit card transactions have now overtaken cash usage in most developed countries. With an increasing reliance on this sort of technology, particularly in light of recent events, it seems likely that this will become the most popular payment method as we move forward into a cash-free society.
It’s not only the payment options available that are becoming ever more technologically advanced, but the sorts of currency we’re able to use too. This now notably includes altcoins, from popular cryptos such as bitcoin through to lesser-known but equally useful options like XTZ, which has recently been earmarked as a particularly smart investment during these unprecedented times.
Offering greater security, enhanced privacy, and lower transaction fees than traditional options, the technology behind these is constantly being refined to make cryptocurrencies slot neatly into our ever-changing world.
Mobile Payment Solutions
In addition, it seems likely that mobile payment solutions and the tech that supports them will also inevitably step into the void. We can already see this in evidence to some extent, with these offering an efficient and popular way to pay for all sorts of goods, from online sales made via smartphones to contactless purchases completed while we’re out and about. Indeed, many mobile providers have – and continue – to invest heavily in this tech, meaning it’s certain to feature ever more significantly in the commercial sphere moving forward.
Tell us, is a cashless society something you would be in favor of, or do you see it as a step too far?