Cash – and how we should be able to live without it – is back in the news. Like anything else the technology industry gets its hand on, cash is suddenly so last decade. We should be able to swipe or swish our phones at cashier-less terminals, or at websites and walk away, smiling.
Cash, like cars, is going to take a long, long time to abolish.
The argument around cars is that the autonomous type will drive for you but it is flawed by the fact that many people want to do the driving.
Some people, like certain publishers of Disruptive.Asia love having a stash of cash in their pocket.
You cannot argue with cash. It has its own power. It drives the engine of dark commerce that is the criminal underworld. Without cash there would be nothing to launder through auction houses and cafes.
Boring as the prospect of life without cash is, we are being herded in that direction.
It is expensive to produce, particularly now with all the precautions you need to take to stop it being forged.
It is dirty. So dirty that South Korea, or its Central Bank, is burning cash as a way of containing COVID-19 (and yes, we rejected the idea of ‘COVID-19 will trigger cashless society’ as a possible headline).
Some countries, though, are very serious about getting rid of cash. China planned to get rid of it by 2020. Sweden has pledged to get rid of the stuff by 2030 (not far away). There was a short documentary on the subject which included a shot of a coffee shop with a sign that says ‘no cash accepted here’.
Banks and Governments would love us to ditch cash. It would cut out a great raft of dodgy dealing, expensive printing and petty crime. Many people would be on board. Millennials and Gen Zers are probably wondering why old people wander about with dirty paper in their pockets.
It makes sense to scrap the lousy stuff.
And yet. And yet.
Call us old fashioned but our view is that if the world can do without cash, can you do it when we are gone?
It is so, well, real.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll grab my keys and drive my car to the movie theatre.