Pi Attitude Zone: Material Status

Financial Institutions Cashing Out

A cashless society?  Who would actually want that?

It’s the financial industry that has the best reason to wean us all off using cash, and to push us into majoring on credit and debit cards and other forms of non-specie payment. The big reason?  It saves them …well, money.

The minting, counting and administering of banknotes and coinage hands society a huge bill, and the cost rises every year. By contrast, the progressive switch to plastic and digitally-denominated forms of payment is relentlessly driven by Moore’s Law, which cuts the cost of computer processing power approximately by half every eighteen months. Result: ever-cheaper digital transactions.

The European Union has estimated a potential saving of 50 billion Euros ($65 billion US) per year if cash were to vanish overnight. Visa and MasterCard have been doing their bit by introducing plastic cards for paying bills under $25, which require neither a customer signature nor a PIN number. Now mobile phones have become a payment method in their own right. The Japanese were among the first to pay for groceries, cinema tickets and rail travel by passing their telephone handsets over a “phone-reader” and waiting for the endearingly old-fashioned “ka-ching” noise that signals a successful payment. More are now following their lead.

The death of cash, then? Not so fast, friends, says Pi.  Keep a hold on your billfolds. 

The big insight is that electronic money movements can almost always be monitored and tracked.  The anonymity of good old-fashioned folding money will always remain popular with those who don’t want to leave a digital trail revealing their transactions to prying eyes.

Zone: Material Status Country: Multiple Geographies Product – Financial