Friday, January 12, 2018

How Long Until a Truly Cashless Society?

Blue Master Card on Denim Pocket

The history of money stretches back to ancient times, where vendors traded goods and
services for other goods and services through bartering. Following this, the Bronze Age
brought about what we would consider coins, made out of (you guessed it) bronze that
had legitimate worth as opposed to someone’s idea of how much a cow (for example)
is worth to them.

This method was the precursor to money as we know it today. Like many things in life,
it evolved, and from bronze came gold, silver and other precious metals and elements.
Ancient civilisations such as Mesopotamia and Qin-Dynasty-China introduced what
would now be considered to be the first banks.

From this, humanity began to develop and evolve and moved onto paper money,
designated values of coins and everything we grew up dropping into our piggy banks.

And then, came credit cards, first established in the 1950s, reducing the need for physical
money and merely guaranteeing you would pay it back when called upon. Credit cards
then led to debit cards and money as we know it today was born.

This reliance on pieces of plastic to pay for services has become more and more of a
trend over the past twenty years or so. In recent years, banks have begun introducing
contactless payments, where you don’t even need your PIN to buy anything, typically
with a limit of around $50. The convenience of merely tapping your card on the point
of sale has streamlined the buying process and saved us all the stress of rummaging
through our wallets looking for spare change.

Countries all over the world have begun to adopt this idea of a cashless society. India
recently banned the use of the 500 and 1000 Rs notes to combat corruption. While this
has been mostly met with positive feedback, it has also hampered the poor who don’t
even have bank accounts.

Furthermore, the village of Concepcion, Colombia has relied on mobile banking before
even the majority of Europe, and Singapore is believed to be one of the frontrunners
in making this trend a reality for the rest of the world.

The emergence of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin and ethereum in recent years has
also brought about what is being called a ‘universal currency’. It doesn’t matter what
part of the world you are in, you can trade similar currencies with strangers and purchase,
without having to worry about exchange rates or, in the case of countries such as
Cambodia, have your national currency deemed worthless outside of your own nation.

But cryptocurrency is a volatile thing; you can lose and gain massive amounts within just
ten minutes without even doing anything, as with many things in life, it is about finding
an opportunity at the right time and taking advantage of it. While you shouldn’t right into
cryptocurrency investment, with proper research and a sensible approach it could bear
fruitful.

Every day, people are looking for ways to improve the way we exchange our money. While
it will take a while to remove all physical notes and coins from circulation and it is bound
to be met with some resistance, there is a possibility that it won’t be long before we move
closer towards a cashless society. Whenever that day comes, though, the proper encryption
and security measures must be in place if we are to trust the digital world to look after our
finances.

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