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In The News
   
 
 

 

In The News

 
May 13 - Thoughts on the New Cashless Society

Article: Technology For A Global Monetary System
 

To say that living without cash has been the stuff of legend would be an exaggeration … but only a slight one. And the reality may come sooner than we think. For literally hundreds of years, the thought of a society without cash, or money at all, has been on the minds of utopian philosophers, financial activists, anarchists and other groups, usually upset at the limitations and abuses of a representative money system. During most of this time, “cashless” — often literally “moneyless” — was a hallowed vision in the minds of some but, being virtually impossible to implement in a society beyond the near-tribal agrarian state, it was pretty much all talk.

Well, it’s back, this time driven by the intersection of consumer, banking, commerce and mobile automation forces that together may make its realization more likely than ever and of major importance to our burgeoning mobile automation world.

While once based on lofty or pecuniary considerations, today’s interest in a cashless society appears to be largely driven by convenience. People, especially a younger generation weaned on “anywhere-anytime” automation, like being able to do things instantaneously wherever they happen to be. They also like buying things and paying for them without having to count the money they have in their pockets. Merchants like selling to more willing credit users, and the financial industry likes lending money at rates much higher than normal loan or mortgage interest. And, of course, the automation industry likes anything that makes their newest gadgets seem indispensable.

For example, today’s parents often give their children money to spend or let them use mom and dad’s credit cards. But many if not most of those children already have smart phones capable of acting as virtual wallets with money loaded by mom and dad, either as scheduled allowances or as requested, perhaps even from a distance and spendable, under parent-defined conditions, at retail establishments capable of accepting electronic transactions. Kids like this because it’s easy and hip while parents like the idea of easily giving junior a limited amount of spending loot with rules on how and where it could be spent — even to the use of GPS to control exact spending location.

Taken together, these forces suggest that the mobile automation industry might be well advised to move aggressively toward a largely cashless state in which value can move transparently, from employer to bank to smart phone (after the appropriate amounts and passwords are entered by the giver and receiver), to merchants with equipment to complete the electronic transactions.

If the smart mobile device world is to continue the aggressive growth curve it and its investors have grown used to, a virtual cash movement that brings together many of the key players in society—parents, children, consumers, banking, commerce and automation—could be just what the doctor ordered: a culture-wide, multi-generational trend more durable than the Angry Birds-like phenomena that play to an increasingly fickle popular culture, and more lucrative than the highly valuable applications world that appeals to more durable but much smaller, lower-growth, segments of the marketplace.

 

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