A version of this essay was originally published at , a site dedicated to educated opinions, insight and perspective about the technology industry.
This week, I was driving in my neighborhood once I seen that most American of sights — a bunch of kids waving signals running a skillet and attempting to flag down passing cars. In some ways, it looked like a excellent small business opportunity — that the temperatures where I have dipped below the 90s lately. And yet I didn’t stop — not since I really don’t like lemonade (or kids), but since I simply don’t carry cash anymore, and I am fairly certain the neighbor kids were not taking credit cards.
This got me interested in industries and most of the people of our economy which are still dependent on cash, and also how they may be affected by our cashless society.
Cash is in decline
Whether anecdotally or centered on information that is solid, I think most of us have a feeling that cash is in decline. One study from this past year suggests that cash is the preferred payment system of just 11 percent of U.S. customers, using 75 percent preferring cards. In markets like China, cash is dying more quickly, with mobile payments and that of cards. Though my regional dry cleaner from New Jersey was a rare (and questionable) exception, I very seldom come across businesses which don’t accept cards, to the extent that it now really takes me aback as it occurs. For many of us these days, debit and credit cards — and to some lesser extent, cell payments — are currently making cash. I have a jar of loose change which mostly makes use of visits or dinner the college lunch from the tooth fairy, but not much else, and that I accumulated over several years.
But not for everybody
Supposing that this pattern holds for everybody would be a mistake. There are still big businesses of groups of people that stay users of cash and are greatly reliant upon it and the economy, and as others go away out of it, that likely to cause these problems. Sadly, this probably applies most to a number of the marginalized and more vulnerable parts of our society, who will be.
Only a few examples of businesses or people still Determined by cash:
- Homeless people and people who ask for money on the streets
- Charity workers soliciting cash contributions in public places
- Guide and casual laborers who get paid in cash, either for convenience or for taxation reasons
- Cab motorists
- people who don’t have bank accounts or credit cards, including many without routine incomes
- The elderly
- The very young, too improbable to have bank account
- Anyone who works based on advice, from waiters and waitresses into maids and barhops from resorts to valet parkers
- Small local retailers and restaurants who can’t warrant high credit card processing charges on mostly smallish purchases.
The list could go on more than this, but the point is that there are those who are helpless to create the changes required to keep up, and are in some instances on cash. All these are one of the poorer and least educated people in information about ways to adapt, or even our society, and therefore those with access to technologies, the banking infrastructure.
Tech has offered partial solutions
The technology industry has offered solutions, but largely in manners that were self-serving. Payment processing company Square has established means with no cards to carry accounts and make payments, and has transformed many a retailer or manufacturer from a company to one which may take credit cards as well as Apple Pay. Approaches have been introduced by Amazon for people who deal mostly in cash to get refillable or one off cards to be utilized to pay for items on its site. Erstwhile cash transfers have turned into to electronic payments. But limits mainly tear down to the addressable markets for their products, without always increasing opportunity or encouraging addition, while also often being based on mobile and internet technology not available to all.
But wants to perform more
What we want is solutions for the remainder of society, and especially for people using telephones and the internet to have the ability to receive payments that are non-cash. What about an program which enables patrons or would-be donors to establish a trade in an program, and permits the recipient to walk right into a bank or store to pick this up with a privately code? Or an app which enables payments to be received by users of fundamental smartphones and take a balance without making a continuous relationship with the plaintiff? What about a service which would provide food, access to amenities and beds, or other needed items to the homeless predicated on contributions from smartphone customers?
is founder and leader in , a technology research and consulting firm focused on the confluence of consumer devices, software, services and connectivity. Throughout his 13 years as a technology analyst, Dawson has covered everything from DSL and out of policy and regulation. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Dawson worked in Ovum for a number of years, most recently as chief telecoms analyst, responsible for the telecoms of Ovum research agenda internationally. Reach him .