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September 24, 2012

With every advance in technology, one other product is closer to extinction.  The iPod has almost killed the compact disc, which killed the cassette tape, which killed vinyl (which is making a comeback… hey, hipsters!).  As something enters the market, something else is immediately being pushed off to the side.

Enter into the arena: smartphones.  Ever since iPhone 3G and there the existence of an app for that, a lot of different products are slipping away.  The main three that come to mind would have to be point-and-shoot cameras, mp3 players, and GPS.  Why have three different items doing something that one item will take care of quite well?

Technology has already started to challenge paper.  eBooks?  The eReader revolution took over and sales of physical books have started to fall.  I read books on my nook and I read periodicals on my iPad.  I have no need for physical books, magazines, or newspapers thanks to these advances.  I have also ditched notebooks in favor of taking notes on both my iPad and iPhone.  Once more, I have no use for that physical paper, either.

This brings me to my point: currency.  Cash money is on the way out.

Not to sound conceited or narcissistic, but that’s the only kind of money I would have any interest in carrying around with me.

Even before the push toward using digital payments, I never carried cash.  There was about a three-month span in high school where I had a job but not a checking account.  At that time, I always had cash on me everywhere.  Once my plastic showed up, it all disappeared.  I will be the first to admit it, too: I have even used plastic for 73¢ once… actually, probably more than once.

Currently, another shift is happening: we are drifting away from credit cards into the arena of mobile payments.  From my iPhone, I can deposit a check into my banking account, transfer funds to others, pay all of my bills, and even pay for purchases at certain stores.  Every time I visit Starbucks, you will not find my wallet on me.  You won’t even find my gold card in my pocket: my phone handles these transactions.  One scan and the money is deducted from my Starbucks account.  Simple as that.  Similarly, I can venture into an Apple store, pick up an item, scan the barcode with my camera, and pay for the item through my iTunes  account.  No need to interact with anyone at all.

Though I have not ventured into this area, I have watched my sister pay for gas through a text message.  Apparently you set up your account with a credit card, then text an amount to be charged to a number.  It then gives you a code to put into the pump which allows you to get that much gas.  Very clever.

We all know that cash will not ever really disappear (though I am hopeful that coins do), but think of it this way: if it is only 2012 and we are already developing this type of technology, what’s next?

… hopefully human flying apparatus.

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