[image reblogged from www.chartingyourfinancialfuture.com]
A vague fear in the mind of probably every numismatist (if they are honest about it) is that we will one day find ourselves in a cashless society. Because living in an environment where only plastic, bitcoins, mobile phones or biometrics are used for transactions would make the whole business of collecting coins pretty pants.
Of course, at the time of writing, this has not yet (and may never) happen. But is it something we should be concerned about? Will there ever come a time when real physical money no longer exists?
According to a survey by LINK (the largest ATM network in the UK) there were 8.7% fewer cash withdrawals in London for the first four months of the year as there were for the same period of time in 2018. While this is not an overall picture (which would take up bags more room than a single article on the subject) it does give us a brief illustration of how more and more people are opting to pay using plastic rather than cold hard cash.
There is far more evidence than this (of course) to back up this philosophy online. And if it is a subject that interests you then ten minutes or so on Google will tell you far more of the same. Basically, cash is a far less favourable method of payment for the majority of people in twenty-first century Britain. So why is this?
In a number of surveys regarding this same question, the two top answers have been consistent; security and convenience. Most people (irrespective of gender) feel far safer walking around with credit and debit cards than they do with real money. And the convenience part of things doesn’t take a whole lot of explaining, especially since the advent of swipe capabilities on cards.
So, does this leave us in a place where a cashless society is inevitable? Well, this part is very much open to speculation. There are still a lot of people who are convinced that whilst non-cash payments may continue to rise, good old fashioned money can never disappear forever. And there are several good reasons for this. To begin with there are certain transactions which would still be nigh on impossible without cash such as market stalls and small businesses without up to date facilities. There are also still a lot of folk out there who are unable to use tech to pay for their goods or who would simply rather not. It is also a concrete fact that there are still around two billion people throughout the world who still don’t even have a bank account (reference – Business Insider - 2017).
Even if non-cash transactions do continue to rise it seems that cash will still be here to stay. Which is obviously very good news for any collector of coins or notes.
© Article and images (except where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019