If we were to develop a timeline of the evolution of money, it would go something like this:
- Precious metals—people used precious metal coins as currency
- Paper currency—the use of bank notes as currency
- Plastic currency—The use of credit and debit cards to make purchases
Now though, we’re in a new era where plastic currency is about to be replaced with contactless unattended payment systems. With each stage in the evolution, there’s greater emphasis on the convenience brought about by successive forms of money people were using. The rise of credit cards was something of a revolution really because people could spend money they didn’t have and could pay the bank later.
Considering how vigorous retail and consumer markets have become, people need money much more often than they might have in the past 50 years. Increasing incomes and consumer expenditures tell us that we need cash with us all the time. But what if your customer forgot to carry their card? What if they lose it somewhere? They’d basically be cut off from making any purchases at your stores at all. That’s where contactless, unattended payment systems come in—these new payment methods let people make purchases possibly through their phones.
Smartphone Becomes a Basic Necessity
A few years ago, research surveys indicated that nearly 46% of all US citizens owned a smartphone. The same surveys also concluded that the average American believe the smartphone was a basic necessity of life to be equally as important as food, water or shelter. Back in 2016, it was established that access to internet was also a fundamental human right.
These consumer trends have had a profound impact on the way the modern retail industry and how people make purchasing decisions. It’s not a coincidence that the e-commerce industry exploded around the same timeframes—the greater access to smartphones and the internet left a lasting impact on consumer spending behaviors. Now we stand at a point where consumer finance, the internet and the smartphone work together to create newer mechanisms of making goods and services accessible to people—through unattended contactless payment systems.
The Idea of a Cashless Economy
Developing a cashless economy is widely considered as the next step in improving existing economic systems. Some countries like Sweden are far ahead than others, witnessing an 80% fall in the number of cash transactions per person throughout the economy. Other countries like the US or China are slowly moving towards these new digital and mobile forms of payment that will completely eradicate the use of credit cards and tangible currency altogether.