I can still remember the excitement of opening my first bank account. Not because I was born with a shrewd sense of investment (my account balances don’t look too dissimilar now to when I was a child). No, my excitement was born from the fact that my bank had a promotion on with the World Wildlife Fund. It meant I got both a ‘gold’ coin and a panda shaped money box for opening an account.
Fast forward twenty, ok, maybe closer to thirty, years and I couldn’t wait to pass on that same buzz to my own son. Now it’s a Darth Vader head rather than a panda.
But his excitement was equal to mine when, for weeks, his favourite game became emptying and refilling his money box of whatever coins hadn’t found their way into his mum’s coffee fund.
His favourite game that is, until he found a more ‘permanent’ way of extracting the coins.
As I swept up the shattered shards of Darth Vader’s head from our bathroom floor, it suddenly dawned on me. This whole experience is one that my son may never share with his kids.
His might be the first generation to see our society become cashless.
The march towards a cashless society
A cashless society is an economic state where monetary transactions are not conducted with physical bank notes or coins.1 And there is no inherent reason cash should remain the primary means of payment.
Banknotes did not exist until the advent of the printing press, and we’ve had cashless payments before, cowrie shells, the barter system, more recently cheques, debit and credit cards. There have always been alternatives to cash payments.2
The difference now is that technology has opened the door to a revolution in payment methods.