By 2020, paying for almost everything with a swipe of your smartphone or iPad "will have gained mainstream acceptance as a method of payment and could largely replace cash and credit cards," says a new study from Elon University and the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The Near Field Communications technology (NFC) that allows you to make mobile payments already exists, and is widely used elsewhere in the world, including in parts of Africa and Asia. Is it only a matter of time before your smartphone eclipses plastic and hard currency as the go-to way to buy things in stores and online?
Sayonara, cash: "Your wallet may soon be a collector's item," says Megan Garber at The Atlantic. Paper currency has served us well for a long time, but "given the explosion of mobile transactions over the past several years, it's hard to disagree with... the general idea that cash and credit cards are, effectively, on their way out." And I say hooray! Going cashless will be liberating, opening up creative new ways of exchanging goods and services.
"Cash and credit cards will be (nearly) dead within the next 8 years"
Take this prediction with a hefty grain of salt: Don't believe the hype, says Ron Dzwonkowski at the Detroit Free Press. Several big, powerful companies are heavily invested in cash and credit cards, and "they will not just quietly go away." Plus, plenty of people like the anonymity of cash, and lots more won't ever trust gadgets and the internet to keep their e-money safe — with good reason.
"Why carry money when you can swipe it?"
It's more complicated than "yes" or "no": Sure, 65 percent of the 1,021 experts surveyed by Pew and Elon believe smartphone payments will be the norm by 2020, says Devindra Hardawar at VentureBeat. But that doesn't mean they believe cash will disappear entirely. When credit cards were introduced, checks and cash didn't suddenly become obsolete — they just became less common. The same is likely to be true when smartphones take their inevitable place as our fourth ubiquitous method of payment. Cash and credits cards will hang around — they'll just be rarer.
"Pew: 65% of experts say most people will adopt mobile payments by 2020"