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Smarter Smart Phones Usher in the Cashless Society

Published: July 28, 2012

Sick of lugging around cash? Don't worry. The cashless society is just around the corner.

Smart Credit CardThanks to smart ... and smarter ... cell phones, the days of wallets, cash, even credit cards may soon be over. Already customers are flashing their phones to purchase lattes in some Starbucks locations or lumber at Home Depot.

A survey by Washington-based Pew Research Center asked 1,000 technologists and social scientists about the wallet's fate in 2020. Two-thirds felt both cash and credit cards will have disappeared by then, to be replaced by smart devices. In fact, even now, smart phones hold all the information we need to transact business: payment methods and identification.

Naturally, companies are anxious to transition to the post-cash economy. Both Visa and MasterCard now offer wireless payment options, and the government of Canada is moving away from plastic, as it plans to stop issuing social insurance cards in March 2014.

Meanwhile, Square, Inc. ( has found a way for small merchants, such as the local hot dog seller or a dog walker, to accept credit cards via a smart phone.
The downside, of course, is concern about privacy and security. The Pew survey found that one-third of respondents felt consumers would worry about the security of their transactions and the misuse of personal data, as advertisers will be able to fine-tune their pitches to customers already predisposed to buy.

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