The Future of Cash

July 19, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 26
Will digital payment systems replace paper currency?
By Hannah H. Kim


While cash continues to circulate widely in the United States, many consumers, as well as many business experts, believe paper money will soon become antiquated. Advocates of a cashless society point to countries such as Sweden and to some Chinese cities where mobile payment applications are supplanting paper currency. In the United States, digital payment systems are helping to change consumer habits, and some businesses have stopped accepting cash. Advocates of a cashless society argue that credit and debit cards and digital payment methods are efficient and transparent and inhibit financial crimes. Because cash is anonymous and largely untraceable, it can facilitate illicit activities such as tax evasion and money laundering. Critics of the cashless trend raise concerns regarding privacy, security and equality. They argue that cash lacks the fees associated with cards or electronic money transfers and that cashless businesses discriminate against people who must, or choose to, rely on cash. In the face of this criticism, some businesses that went cashless are reversing course.

Street musician Peter Buffery (Getty Images/PA Images/Lewis Whyld)
Street musician Peter Buffery, with his custom guitar that allows him to accept cashless donations, performs in London's Soho Square. (Getty Images/PA Images/Lewis Whyld)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Dollar and Inflation
Jul. 19, 2019  The Future of Cash
Oct. 2008  The Troubled Dollar
Feb. 13, 1998  Deflation Fears
Mar. 13, 1987  Dollar Diplomacy
Oct. 14, 1983  Strong Dollar's Return
Jul. 11, 1980  Coping with Inflation
May 16, 1980  Measuring Inflation
Dec. 07, 1979  Federal Reserve's Inflation Fight
Jun. 09, 1978  Dollar Problems Abroad
Sep. 20, 1974  Inflation and Job Security
Feb. 26, 1969  Money Supply in Inflation
Feb. 14, 1968  Gold Policies and Production
Dec. 15, 1965  Anti-Inflation Policies in America and Britain
Mar. 15, 1965  World Monetary Reform
Dec. 02, 1964  Silver and the Coin Shortage
Oct. 17, 1962  Gold Stock and the Balance of Payments
Dec. 15, 1960  Gold and the Dollar
Oct. 10, 1956  Old-Age Annuities in Time of Inflation
Jan. 17, 1951  Credit Control in Inflation
Aug. 10, 1949  Dollar Shortage
Oct. 04, 1943  Stabilization of Exchanges
Jan. 21, 1941  Safeguards Against Monetary Inflation
Mar. 25, 1940  United States Gold in International Relations
Dec. 14, 1937  Four Years of the Silver Program
Oct. 04, 1934  Inflation in Europe and the United States
Jan. 30, 1934  Dollar Depreciation and Devaluation
Sep. 05, 1933  Stabilization of the Dollar
May 29, 1933  Invalidation of the Gold Clause
Mar. 15, 1933  Inflation of the Currency
Oct. 25, 1924  Bank Rate and Credit Control Federal Reserve Policies and the Defaltion Issue
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Credit and Debt
General Social Trends
Retail Trade
Small Business