opinion

The Future of Currency

Stephen Yagielowicz

When it comes to payment processing today, regulators and policy issues play as big a role in defining the process as do technological innovations; which in the latter case are reaping infrastructural dividends that could soon lead to the de-emphasis of cash and even credit cards as primary preferred payment vehicles in the physical world — and it should happen in only a few short years, according to a recent report from Pew Internet.

This latest survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, in cooperation with the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University, and finds that the majority of respondents would prefer a swipe of their phone over other point of sale options, such as cash or credit cards — despite having significant concerns over interoperability, privacy, reliability and security.

Increasing the ease and variety of payment options, especially within the online/mobile arena, will be good news for adult merchants.

The report reveals that 65 percent of responding technologists believe that technology will have matured by 2020 to a point where consumer reluctance will be surpassed by the overwhelming convenience afforded by using mobile payments for real world payments — rendering cash and credit cards essentially obsolete for many consumers.

A third of respondents, however, disagree with the premise; but two thirds of today’s consumer audience is a big enough number to attract some heavyweight attention.

AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are now rolling out their Isis mobile payment network; while companies from Apple to PayPal to Visa are all entering the wallet services fray, hoping for a slice of this pie. Near Field Communications (NFC) services, such as the tap-to-pay Google Wallet, bring new options to Android Smartphone users employing the app to redeem coupons or earn points, providing further incentives to adopt the platform.

While nothing will ever replace hard currencies such as gold, increasing the ease and variety of payment options, especially within the online/mobile arena, will be good news for adult merchants, insofar as they are allowed to make use of them. Only time will tell.

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