Will we be cashless in a decade?

Can we hope to see cashless payments triumph in the next decade? Or is cash's hold on us too powerful?

A prediction of office life in 2025:

On the street the cars are driving themselves, and people with internet connected retinal implants walk past, checking the scores and their stocks as they go.

You order a latte with soy milk – the only kind of milk that’s affordable any more after the collapse of the dairy industry. You reach into your wallet, and pull out a few bills, folded and slightly crumpled on the edges, smoothing them before you feed them into the robot barista’s money slot.

Wait. Crumpled bills? Isn’t this supposed to be the future? Nobody is going to use cash in 10 years, right?

As the article goes on to explain, there are two major reasons to doubt that cash will die. The first is entirely rational: cash is convenient, untraceable and not reliant on an internet connection or power to exchange.

An irrational love of coinage

The second? A lot less rational:

Psychologist Eric Uhlmann, from the Paris School of Management, has done a handful of studies that picked apart how differently people feel about different kinds of money. “I’m interested in human intuition and economic irrationalities,” he says. “There’s this sort of irrational feeling that if money is physical, it’s more yours, and you feel like you own it more. If you touch a dollar more, then that particular dollar becomes yours.”

It’ll be interesting to see if that’s a persistent human factor, or a generational issue that might be eroded as more and more transactions become cashless. Still, there’s plenty of food for thought about the limits of technological displacement.