Who needs cash?

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Paying with cash is so passé. With the proliferation of Square (a service that allows businesses to accept credit card payments via mobile devices), up and comer LevelUp (a service that allows shoppers to pay with their phone), and others, shoppers can truly leave their wallets at home. 

And while predictions of a cashless society become more and more of a reality, there are many implications to wrestle with. Is this the beginning of the end for physical banks? After all, aren't most people apathetic to “the bank” at best anyway? And what about those in developing countries where most don’t even have bank accounts but do have cell phones? Could the phone become the 21st century checking account?  And then there’s Bitcoin. Could Bitcoins create a digital money revolution? And it may seem outlandish, but if cash disappears, could bartering flourish? These questions remain.

For now, companies that can get ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative and buyer-centric purchase technologies will have a leg up. Paying from a phone has clear user benefits, but it also benefits those who provide the easy payment options. Most simply, companies could more readily offer targeted deals, promotions, and ads based on GPS location (if they know you are going to use your phone while shopping). Then, there’s the fact that retailers could know exactly who you are and what you like when you simply walk into a store, Minority Report style. And that’s probably just the beginning of revolutionizing the shopping experience. Sounds like a win-win.

Buying stuff has never been so easy. By simply pushing a few buttons or waving your phone in front of a payment terminal, the world can truly become your oyster. But, in the future, don’t bet against momentous change.