Rapid technological changes will affect your RV Lifestyle Part 2: A Cashless Society

cash_is_doomedLast week’s blog on self-driving cars was the first in a series of posts in which I will pose how new ways of thinking will affect the RV Lifestyle as we move increasingly faster into the future.

The Swedes are propelling rapidly toward a cashless society, where paying for ANYTHING with an app or credit card will replace the necessity of carrying cash or coin. In fact, according to Statistics Sweden, notes and coins in public circulation has dropped more than 40 percent below its 2007 peak. Riksbank Deputy Governor Cecilia Skingsley notes, “A drive for innovation has been created in Sweden to come up with cost-effective and user-friendly alternatives to cash,” and that cash is likely to “more or less disappear” as a means of payment in the private sector.

Advanced countries are closer to a cashless economy that you might think. Some experts predict that cash will disappear completely by 2020. “While traditional payment systems like cash, credit and debit cards and so on, are still very much in vogue,” writes Priya Viswanathan in Lifewire, “the very latest trend among shoppers is mobile payment. Lately, one can find several credit card processing apps for smartphones and tablets. While this makes the entire process much easier and more streamlined, it is also useful for shoppers as it is also the cheaper method of payment. The big tech companies are all scrambling to establish their own branded payment system – Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal – designed to replace cash payments even for the smallest transactions.”

This non-stoppable trend has important implications for RVers, especially active ones that spend weeks and months traveling beyond their local areas and the financial institutions they currently use. For instance, you will no longer need to even carry notes and coin, nor go to the ATM machine to withdraw cash. It will no longer be necessary for:

  • Parking meters
  • Pay phones (there won’t be any)
  • Campgrounds (those that take only cash will have to accept mobile payments if they hope to be competitive)
  • Vending machines (card swipes only)
  • Fast food purchases
  • Coffee breaks (Starbucks is setting the pace in moving to the future))
  • Restaurant Tipping (just add the tip to the check)
  • Airport check-in baggage handlers
  • Small merchants
  • Street vendors
  • Taxis and ride sharing

“The police and government agencies like the NSA love the trackable records that cashless payments leave behind.” writes Charlie Sorrel in FastCompany. “Last year, France and Spain both enacted laws that limit cash transactions. In France it is now illegal to use cash for anything more than 1,000 euros (around $1,080). In Germany, economist Peter Bofinger supports a ban on cash, calling it an anachronism. ‘The markets for undeclared work and drugs could be dried out,’ writes Germany’s Der Spiegel, ‘and central banks would find it easier to enforce their monetary policies.’”

There are those that will oppose the move to a cashless society. Probably the most vocal opponents will be those that don’t want to pay a small handling fee for processing (however, the ease of handling mobile payments is more efficient than taking, counting, depositing, and needing to carry change) and those bent on not paying taxes on income that can otherwise be easily hidden. And there will be those that currently take in a lot of cash – you can bet that as the cashless society moves into the future, they will find a way to take digital payments – in fact, there are already ways that private individuals can take digital payments from anybody, you just have to set it up. Face it, cash is doomed.

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