Tech experts believe cash and credit cards may disappear by 2020

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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If tech experts are right, the use of cash and credit cards will have mostly fallen out of use by the end of the decade.

The latest survey conducted by The Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project, released Tuesday, found that 65 percent of tech experts believe payments made via smartphones will be the dominant form of financial transactions in advanced societies by 2020.

Thirty-three percent of experts surveyed believed that cash and credit cards will remain the dominant form of financial transactions.

Pew surveyed a non-random sample of 1,021 academics and employees from Google and Microsoft. Many respondents were confident that mobile payments are a natural extension of the trend toward the adoption of mobile technology.

“There is nothing more imaginary than a monetary system,” said Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “Of course we’ll move to even more abstract representations of value. Other countries are already content to use their phones; we’ll catch up eventually.”

“The 2020 date might be a bit optimistic, but I’m sure that this will happen,” said Hal Varian, chief economist at Google. “What is in your wallet now? Identification, payment, and personal items. All this will easily fit in your mobile device and will inevitably do so.”

Not everyone agreed with the assessment, however, taking in to account the habits of human beings throughout the course of documented history.

“Cash — tangible, hold it in your hand dollars — has been around for millennia,” said Jeff Eisenach, principal at Navigant Economics LLC. “It won’t go away in a decade.”

“The majority of working class and lower-middle class people in advanced countries will not be passionate about the issue in either way but will still be extremely slow to adopt any of these systems,” said Danah Boyd, a research leader at Microsoft. “In many of the communities that I visit, using ATMs is still a radical thing done by the young.”

At least one academic had a sense of humor about the future trend of money — alluding to an apocalyptic religious belief that a cashless society is a sign of the End of Days.

“I for one welcome my beast-marked future financial transactions,” said Paul Jones, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.” Just look into my eye — biometrically of course — and add to my e-wallet.”

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