Seriously, No More Cash in 2012

It turns out that 2012 is a kind of magnet for apocalyptic thinking. Justin Wolfers has predicted that the name Cash, currently riding a wave of popularity, will largely disappear by that date. Will actual cash — currency, greenbacks, dineros — survive much longer? David Wolman is the latest in a long line of people hoping the answer is no. While we’ve argued for ditching the penny, Wolman writes in praise of abolishing physical money altogether, in favor of a streamlined, emoney future. The technological solutions, he says, are in place. The policy solutions are, we think, another matter. [%comments]


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  1. Andy says:

    In New Zealand cash is used increasingly less. Debit cards have been in high levels of use since I arrived here 11 years ago, and that has continued unabated. Many traders are glad to give you cash back with your purchase as it saves them the risk of holding it and the cost of depositing it at the bank.

    Most bank accounts don’t charge per transaction, so there is no disincentive to using electronic payment (other than the ability for someone somewhere to know where you’ve been). The system is fast at approval and adds minimal delay.

    I seldom have more than NZD50 in cash in my wallet (approx USD30)

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  2. Dave C. says:

    Ha, not for questionable transactions. Last time I used a credit card at Taco Bell, they surreptitiously added $1 to the charge without telling me. I only use cash there from now on. I’ve worked in retail before and most people who pay cash count their change and most people who pay with cards don’t pay attention, especially now that you don’t have to sign.

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  3. CBBB says:

    And of course the switch to eMoney cards would probably be accompanied by bank transaction fees being charged for every single purchase. It would be like an additional sales tax that goes to the banks.

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  4. scott says:

    On behalf of gigging musicians everywhere, let me just say that a ‘cashless’ economy will be very sad for those of us who prop up a tip jar at our place of business.

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  5. Ray says:

    Just think, the government could now tax EVERY “penny” spent.

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  6. Don says:

    A system where you could pay via cell phone text message doesn’t seem like it would take too much to implement.

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  7. laurence says:

    hong kong has this touchless payment card in place that’s extremely efficient. the card is called the “octopus” and it started off as a payment for the underground Metro (MTR) now it has basically taken over spare change for 90% of the case: Metro, bus, 7-11s, mcdonalds, tons of parking garages, shops all take the octopus card for money!

    its an extremely good system its not hard imagine it to take over cash completely! or at least substantially!

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  8. Kevin says:

    Well then, what would be the (functional) difference between a $50 American Express gift card and a $50 dollar bill?

    Aside from the fact that American Express isn’t accepted everywhere, they both serve mostly the same function. Cash is just more flexible. So I don’t see any advantage of eliminating it.

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