The Cashless Society
When will society become cashless? When will we no longer use notes and coins? Cheques are set to disappear by the end of this decade, but talk about the demise of cash is premature. In the Darwinian process which shapes our monetary economy, why is cash going to survive? What are the survivable traits of cash? First, it anonymous, whereas electronic payments are not. Second, it is convenient. Third, it is secure from online con-men and hackers. Fourth, electronic payment is too costly for low value items and services. Fifth, a large proportion of modern society is unbanked i.e., they don't have a bank account. Sixth, cash is deeply embedded in our culture and society.
Prof. Bernardo Batiz-Lazo of Bangor University, and formerly of Queen's, has a really nice blog which examines historical and cross-country experiences with cashless payments. He has also just written a review over at the NEP-HIS blog of a paper which looks at pre-1900 utopian visions of the cashless society. It is well worth a read!