2016 - The year of the cashless society?

November 30, 2023


Image by Irish Typepad, via flickr

Since the introduction of credit cards in 1958 people have been banging on about the possibility of a cashless society. A new report has claimed that 2016 will be the year when electronic transactions will take over from cash as the main form of payment in our day-to-day lives.

But, just how could this cashless society come about? And what would it look like?

Well, there are a variety of reasons why electronic payments are nearly ready to do away with the need for coins and notes. One of the main driving factors is the desire of some major businesses to shift towards electronic payments.

It’s easy to see why companies like Visa and Paypal are fond of the idea; more electronic payments mean more business for them. But, what about the major retailers? Wouldn’t more electronic payments mean more fees for them to pay? Well, yes, but the surprising thing is that it actually costs more to handle the cold hard cash. It’s got to be counted, checked, bagged, tagged and transported. On top of all that, there are never ending issues related to forged notes. UV lights have to be installed, staff need to be trained and the supermarkets have to absorb the losses when fake notes get through.

While we’re all familiar with paying by card, it can still feel a bit slow and awkward when you’re paying for something small. I’ve certainly experienced a little embarrassment when paying for a £1 bottle of juice by card. There’s a strangely uncomfortable little moment when both you and the cashier are waiting for the chip and pin terminal to get itself ready; you try and zone out for a few seconds while they look at you and think ‘woah, there goes  Mr Moneybags putting another megabucks purchase on the goldcard’.  And, annoyingly, there’s not even really enough time to lighten the mood with a little banter. All that is bad enough, just pray you don’t have to go through it in a busy petrol station during rush hour. You can actually feel the temperature rise as the rage boils up within the hoard of angry motorists behind you. You can almost hear them think ‘How dare he lengthen my arduous commute faffing about with his card. And he’s not even buying fuel, the damn swine! Mark my words, he’ll pay for this!’

…Anyway, all that could soon be a thing of the past. Technology seems to finally be catching up with the dreams of the retailers and payment companies. They reckon that Near Field Communication (NFC) is the future of these petty little payments of less than £15 (any more and you’d need to use a pin number too). NFC doesn’t actually have anything to do with shouting at farmers; it’s really all about being able to swipe your mobile over a payment terminal for a quick and effortless transaction.  I can see the future now… people will have their own little swiping styles: you’ll have the swingers, the flickers, the sliders and many more.

But, what would happen if you wanted to lend a friend a few quid? Simple, you’d text them it of course!

With a rapid growth in the number of NFC terminals, many of the mobile phone manufactures getting on-board and interest from major online players like Google, it can only be a matter of time before the sight of cash becomes a rare occurrence. Cash will always have its place though, could you imagine your gran texting you some money on your birthday?

Do you like the idea of a cashless society? Would you be a swinger, a flicker of a slider? Let us know in the comment box below.


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