If cash becomes a thing of the past, will you miss it?

In a recent survey, technology experts said they expect an all-but-cashless society by 2020, as people turn more toward using their phones as instruments of payment. Today’s Question: If cash becomes a thing of the past, will you miss it?

  • reggie

    I doubt the “all-but-cashless” prediction will come to pass as quickly as your experts suggest, but yes, I will be a holdout. Having lived abroad in places without the infrastructure to process electronic payments — which still characterizes much of the developing world — I developed the habit of using cash. It can be a challenge to pay for a car or a hospital bill with cash, but it makes one much more intentional about spending. When my kids use their credit cards to buy a $1.50 bottle of pop, it drives me crazy.

    And then there’s the whole paranoid thing about giving all that data to big businesses and governments. I really don’t like enabling even more surveillance (not that I am naive enough to think it can be avoided).

  • david

    Probably. I really don’t want to have to get (and pay for) a credit card merchant account just to sell my old junk on craigslist.

  • Richard

    Cash may be king, but the cash- spewing ATM is the Crown Prince.

    Just back from 3 weeks in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey, where the Euro is a defacto means of value exchange – not everywhere, admittedly, but in enough areas similar to the 2 countries mentioned above. Does this make the Turkish Lira more/less stable?

    Yet the banks still have work to do. Whereas Australians still travel with matched signatures as a transaction validation, the same was not so in Turkey. I needed (and didn’t have) a chipped debit/credit card for the merchant – if not, they’d only cash.

    Hence a few hurried trips to the ATM, where the banks took the risk by providing the cash. What would happen if the ATMs ran dry?

  • Gary F

    Drugs, illegal firearms, and gambling, are the outlaws going to process credit cards.

    Just think, strippers with credit card processors.

  • matt

    The interesting part will be that currencies will need to become competitive once “money” becomes fully digital. If you have no transaction cost for exchanging or transacting in $, pesos, Euros, bitcoins, etc the value proposition of the currency comes into play. The $ costs you 2%/year in good times due to inflation. If the Yen is more stable because of sound economic policies you may ditch the $. Legal tender laws will have a tougher time containing these transactions in a global/digital society.

    Don’t worry about the black market, they have and always will find a way to exploit market inefficiency caused by govt regulation from sham transactions to trading bottles of Tide the market, like water, finds its level.

  • Paul

    I knew I was missing some cash.

  • Larry M.

    Cash does offer some privacy, lowers the cost entrance into the market place (art fairs, flee markets, garage sales, farmers’ markets, etc.) and works great as a gift in a card,

  • Jim G

    Yes, I will miss cash if it goes away, but it won’t. Not everyone has a smart phone, and this is one consumer who won’t be using my smart phone to pay for goods. Cash provides security at a time of crisis: you can use it in a power outage, or when the phone technology fails, which it surely will. That’s why people invest in gold and it’s at historic highs. If you read the details of the survey you will be underwhelmed by it’s findings and survey sampling techniques. 2020 is just eight years away, and I just don’t buy this disguised marketing ploy. Cash will always be accepted.

  • Steve the Cynic

    What I would miss is the option of making purchases anonymously. I don’t necessarily want data miners knowing what books or movies or music I buy, what entertainment venues I attend, what causes I give to, etc. It would make it harder for organized crime to operate, though. On balance, I hope it doesn’t happen. It would give to much power to financial institutions (as if they don’t have too much already).

  • Chuck Burton

    I use cash when I can because it is just a more secure form of currency. Cash is harder to counterfeit and easier to safeguard than any digital currency will ever be. Cash is also less susceptible to bank error and it can be stockpiled in your home for emergencies. I’ll strongly oppose any attempt to move to a completely cashless society because it weakens people while strengthening corporate power. An economy based on a digital currency makes even the most basic transaction trackable by government and/or businesses and provides absolutely no protections for consumers in the face of bank errors or technological malfunctions.

  • JasonB

    Sure, I’d miss the feel of real money.

    Coincidentally, I just watched ‘The Hustler’ for the first time, and noticed how integral the exchange of wads of cash was to the look and feel of that movie. There’s some kind of gritty romanticism about actual currency. I find the visceral satisfaction of handling it to be preferable over swiping a card or flashing a smartphone.

  • Ginny

    I refuse to have all my transactions tracked.

    We will not go cashless. For many reasons, but on top of them all, what happens when the electrical grid goes down? What will people do for tips?

  • David Poretti

    The race is on – a cash-less society or a paper-less society…I’m betting (cash) on neither. Seriously, I do not want or need to have my transactions tracked, data mined and sold to marketeers. I have no interest in being “target marketed”. The steady and willing erosion of our privacy – via tracking of web sites, Google searches, tweets, facebook, emails, cell phone calls, purchases, “security” cameras – speaks volumes to our willingness to forego our individual privacy rights.

  • SGall

    I worry about those in most need should we go cashless. One can give someone on the street a few dollars cash, but one cannot give money to such a suffering individual should it all be electronic. Also, as a single mother, there are times where my account is empty, but there is enough change to gather for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk until payday.

  • GregX

    I think the “cash” concept will never actually go away. What will replace it is a way of storing “cash” in an non-UserID-based-system electronic form. Fro example – imagine your cell phone or a USB data key holding encrypted serial #’d cash value. Its simply recognized and raw cash – not tied to your account. Still don’t get it – look at how dollar bills circulate – with serial #’s. Thbey aren’t tied to your ID. If you drop it – someone else can pick it up and use it. Well – that’s what the non-UserID-basedsystem transfer of cash could operate. I’m guessing solving the coins problems with electronic ID’s would be difficult – but not impossible.

  • matt

    For those who object to having their transactions monitored first please remember that most of your transactions are tracked currently or could be tracked with relative ease. Second anonymous transactions are just as easy with bytes as they are with paper. Gift cards are simply cash substitutes. Exchange gift cards with a friend or via craigslist if you really want to get sneaky (plus you can avoid fingerprints…if you are a true foil helmet contrail type person).

    As for having your digital money absconded or lost in the shuffle…every dollar you own that is not in your wallet bears that risk now. And again every dollar you own is subject to the whims of the “Full Faith and Credit of the US Govt”. If they double the amount of money in circulation they reduce the value of each dollar by 50% and you have no recourse against them…just faith.

    A couple of other thoughts…

    Eurozone already planning for RFID tags in larger denomination notes (if they survive that is).

    Money is a good, it does not have to be created by govt, it can be created by anyone.

  • Henry

    Remember, bartering IS taxable.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The privacy issue is the main problem with going cashless. Safety is irrelevant. There’s no such thing as a safe way to store wealth. Physical cash can be lost or stolen. Paper money can burn up in a fire. Banks and governments can fail. Computer data can be altered by all sorts of means. Even gold and silver fluctuate in value; if an especially productive mine opens up, the value will suddenly go down. And of course, the instant you die you own nothing. Much human misery comes from greed for wealth and fear of losing wealth.

  • Daniel Mark

    I currently live and work in Moscow, although I still consider myself a Minnesotan. Russia is still largely cash only and I consider this part of the reason why people have less personal debt and the country as a whole has not been affected as much by the recent global recession.

  • Regnar James

    I predict in the near future we will do a lot more bartering.

    The fed and our political leaders have set the stage for making the FRN and thus USD worthless.

    That’s my 2 cents… or with inflation that just cost me 44 cents.


  • James

    Lemme get this straight.

    Cash is going away (meaning everyone needs to have a debit/credit card or a smartphone) and people are suggesting that the need for proper ID will disenfranchise some voters?

    Someone if exaggerating or outright fibbing!

  • matt


    No need to have an ID to make electronic payments. You can get a bank account, credit card, debit card, EBT card, gift cards, paypal account – all without an ID. Legally.

  • Ben

    What do you do when the power goes out for DAYS like is has on the east coast???

    Also your church’s Collection plates would be VERY empty.

    Birthday cards too.

  • Richard White

    Won’t happen. Cash has panache. Cash is sexier.

  • Ann

    Since some of us have no income or low income, how can we afford the cell phones that you mentioned in the question? I use cash.

  • Ashley

    As many have said, I do not believe that a cash-less society is on the horizon, or even a distant possibility. As a bank teller, I interact on a daily basis with a large segment of society who operate in a cash only world. Should anyone believe that our society will soon have no need for cash, they are obviously unaware that the lower classes (people who are often “off the grid” – who don’t have bank accounts, credit cards, cell phones, or computers) are still largely dependent on cash as a way of life. I cash checks every day for people who will use that cash to trade for food, clothing, and shelter.

    The problem with this survey is that the participants were gathered from a non-random sampling of internet users (“The survey results are based on a non-random, opt-in, online sample of 1,021 Internet experts and other Internet users, recruited via email invitation”). Obviously, NOT an accurate “slice” of American society.

  • Terence

    It’ll be a novelty.

  • Cashless Minn

    Cash is already obsolete. Considering the only way to get it out of your bank account is to wait in line for a teller or use a cash machine.. for a fee!

    Cash is inconvenient to handle with all the metal coins to hassle with. All coins do is sit around and get in the way and the only solution to get rid of them is to cash them in for, you guessed it, a fee. When the cash-onlies make a purchase, they make all the rest of us waste time waiting as they count cash and coin as they fiddle around with such an outdated method of exchange.

    Cash once lost or stolen is gone forever and potentially in the hands of evildoers. Protections exist for ATM/credit cards in the event of loss or theft.

    And don’t even get me started on checks. I hate them and almost never use them! I have a box of checks that will last me a lifetime. I only write three checks per year and only because the government, being the most inefficient institution there is on the planet, doesn’t take ATM/credit. So I still have to blow the dust off my box of checks for semi-annual property tax and tabs for the car. I don’t even have a checkbook anymore. Nor do I have rabbit ears on top of my TV set.

    As for the underground economy, barter and precious metals will serve this market vary well. Considering that Tide laundry detergent, of all things, is the new cash and that a carton of cigarettes has about the same value as a bag of weed, they will do just fine. And for the higher end criminal marketplace, gold, silver, palladium or even platinum can certainly pay the bill for major black market transactions quite easily.

  • jack goldman

    Corporations want to track all humans with cards and phones to farm people. Cash, guns, food, prevent this. In a cashless society humans will be owned by corporations. In a cash society corporations are owned by humans. It’s a war.

    Regarding barter. There could be a sex tax, since sexual intercourse has a market value of $300. When will the government start collecting on the barter value of sexual intercourse? That is where we are going. All activities will be monitored and taxed. I would prefer humans forming communities and creating their own money where there are no taxes.

    Government pensions are not underfunded, they are over promised. All things have their limits including credit (2008 crash), and cash.

    The Dow was $700 in 1963 in silver coins. In 2012 the Dow is $600 in the same exact silver coins. In a cashless society the manipulation will be even worse, a form of corporate slavery. A minimum wage human is cheaper then owning a slave.

    We need to return to REAL cash, silver coins, instead of FAKE cash as fake Federal Reserve Notes. Cash will always be with us. We have cars but there are more horses now then ever. History and evolution can add on but they are horrible at subtracting and taking away unless it’s a mass extinction.

    The more I use credit cards and computers the more I like cash and human beings. Protect yourself. No one else can or will.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Strictly speaking, jack, corporations are impersonal entities and therefore don’t want anything. It’s the people in charge of corporations that are the problem.

  • inuit

    “No need to have an ID to make electronic payments. You can get a bank account, credit card, debit card, EBT card, gift cards, paypal account – all without an ID. Legally.”

    “If they double the amount of money in circulation they reduce the value of each dollar by 50%…”

    Ignorance…is bliss. Good thing there is no requirement to know what you are talking about before posting.

  • matt


    Please enlighten me on my ignorance. Since both of statements I made were facts, not theory or how I wish things are I will even lay it all out for you and allow you to expose my ignorance…if you are unable I would appreciate an apology.

    Let us start with the inflation piece first. To keep things simple we use a simple economy. Community A uses “ameobas” as currency. One fish costs 10 “ameobas” a phone costs 50 “ameobas” and a house costs 200 “ameobas”. There are currently 5000 “ameobas” in circulation . A thunderstorm passes through and lightning strikes Community A and all of the “ameobas” split. Now there are 10,000 ameobas. The number of fish, phones and houses did not change, nor did the wants, needs and desires of Community A. Are all of the citizens suddenly wealthy because of this lightning storm? Nope. Fish now cost 20 “ameobas”, phones are 100 and houses sell for 400 “ameobas”. The value of the “ameoba” has fallen by 50%. This is the whole reason counterfeiting is a crime my friend. An increase in currency results in a devaluation of the currency.

    As for establishing a bank account, etc. you do need a SSN which, yes is identification to an extent, but remember my response was to a statement about voting in which case we are talking about state issued photo identification. But obtaining a “numbered account” can still be accomplished without providing an ssn. Easier still is to create a business account which again requires an EIN but certainly this could all be done to benefit a person who did not want to show identification in order to open a bank account. Once you have the bank account everything else is quite simple. You can deposit checks or cash with “un banks” for obtaining credit cards etc. Gift cards, I hope I don’t have to explain. EBT, again the SSN issue exists but is not required if you are the parent of minor citizens and other issues.

    I am fully prepared to accept criticism for sloppiness on the SSN issue, I don’t agree that is the same as ignorance as again I was speaking to a comment regarding the voting issue in this case.

    Not sure what I did to offend that you culled through all of the posts to pull out two separate comments by me and then refer to me as ignorant. I may be verbose and determined but I think in most cases I am well mannered, accepting of criticism and even more accepting of the fact that very few people share my opinions. It would be great if you could let me know what I did to offend you so that I could consider and apologize if appropriate.

  • Steve the Cynic

    You were right on those points, matt. I suspect “innuit” may be another screen name for georges/jockamo. On the value of the dollar, though, you are assuming stable population. If the population using the currency increases at the same rate as the money supply, the value should stay about the same.