The future of money… RIP up the Cheque

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When I see that the cheque is basically on its way out of existence in the UK — Boots, WH Smith, Asda, Morrison’s and now the London Underground are all banning the cheque for payment — I got to wondering about the future of money and currency. In the UK, I remember well when the cheque books used to be so popular. The reduced usage by the high street shopper, the higher processing fees and the greater fraud risks have all contributed to this stoppage. And then there is the concept of paper banknotes. The one pound bill is long gone; the fiver is under siege. Australia, New Zealand and Ireland have all created polymer coated (“plastic”) five pound/dollar notes. At first, it seems like the plastic note could be un-environmentally friendly, but then again, I don’t expect to see many fivers being thrown into the compost heap. And maybe the plastic bills last longer (10x longer say Australia) and people less of a need to wash their hands after touching a £5 note. But, surely, it is only a matter of time before all money becomes “electronic,” starting with more sophisticated credit & debit cards, but moving it beyond the i-phone to the i-got-it-all: phone, music, photos, contacts, email, internet, RFID and virtual money (as has already been developed in Japan and is in test in France). When you consider the advancement of the ‘mobile phone wallet’ (a handset with contactless payment capabilities that is now common currency for use in public transportation in many cities, like Oyster in London), it seems only a matter of time before money goes the way of the cheques. Any bets on when your wallet becomes one with your i-device?

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