How to prepare for a cashless society
The UK ranks as the world’s third most cashless country behind Canada and Sweden. So how do you get ready for a world without paper and coins?
Contactless transactions have long been the most common transaction method in the UK. Moving forward, your phone and wearable tech will no doubt see virtual cards replace your plastic.
Where will the quest for convenience lead society? Fingerprint and facial recognition tech exist in most modern handsets and wearables and its use is on the rise. For the more daring, microchip implant technology is available and seeing growth in the world’s most cashless society, the progressive Sweden.
Orwellian nightmare or the future? Whatever your limits may be, ensuring you have the ability to make payments via various methods is key. If one payment method fails, and you lose or break your primary payment device, you’ll need a back-up or replacement.
The entire country is reliant on the ability of the card processing network giants that are Visa and Mastercard (and to a lesser extent on our shores, Amex). If one system goes down, which has happened in recent years, having a card with another network would be the only way you could make a payment in a world where cash was no longer king.
Cashless payments remove the pain of spending and handing over our hard-earned physical cash. One click is all it takes to make instant purchases, and the number of available subscriptions services only seem to be expanding … you only have to look at the way we consume television or movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV, BT Sport, NowTV … the list goes on.
Equally, we’re using more accounts to manage our money. The answer? There’s a host of great applications out there that can help you aggregate your accounts into one place, track what you’re spending and where you’re spending it, alongside loads of other cool savings and investment features. Check out Plum, Yolt or Moneybox, who can help you make the most of your money.
Clearly, they can’t track where you spend your physical cash (no doubt this is welcomed by some!), but as cash usage dies these personal finance management tools will only become more powerful, prevalent and useful products.
A world with less cash will mean a world with more cyber-crime. Protect yourself where you can. Many neo banks offer virtual cards that allow you to change your card numbers in a couple of taps, which in turn, automatically updates your e-wallet (Google Pay / Apple Pay).
The likes of Monese, Starling, Revolut and Monzo all lead the way here for consumers, with all major card companies offering virtual business account solutions. Both Google and Apple Pay will tell you who you’re paying, before you complete the transaction so that if you’re paying for the Big Issue via their iZettle partnership or to a charity on your phone, you can ensure the money is going to the right place.
For the crypto traders out there, do your research on the right wallet as these are a high priority target for hackers.
Gen Z have grown up seeing transactions as nothing more than taps of cards, a swipe of a watch or a click on a basket. A bank account can be opened in minutes with credit obtained and paid into your account on the same day. This is undoubtedly positive progression.
But with young folk rarely seeing money change hands, is this affecting their understanding of the impact of how they interact with cash and credit? Financial education was none existent in my school days and progress here in the UK is slow. This needs to change. In the meantime, with cashless payment methods removing the pain of spending, we should all take a note of what we’re paying for, either via credit or debit methods. Always borrow responsibly!
I’m a huge advocate of digital transactions, rarely carrying cash (to the frustration of my colleagues when the birthday collection comes around!). What is certain is that the speed of transactions, cost savings, hygiene factors are all positives for businesses and for society. Tracking transactions in real-time means keeping a closer eye on fraudulent activity.
So much truly amazing technology is being developed to guide us closer to a seamlessly cashless society, representing a huge opportunity. We do however need to be wary of pitfalls, with progress in financial inclusion for the underbanked and those that solely rely on cash.
Will we ever see a totally cashless society? Who knows? If you’re really scared of a totally digital banking ecosystem when 2030 comes around, and cash is extinct, you could always go full circle and use your retina-scanning watch to blink checkout on some precious metals to bury under the mattress.