I’ve started reading a really good book, named Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World.
It brought up a topic that I thought was fascinating, surrounding the future of cash and how the balance of power is moving away from the traditional banking system. I found myself wondering whether I trust technology companies with my money more so than traditional banks, but I haven’t been able to answer that yet.
The last financial crisis certainly raised some questions on the stability of traditional banking institutions. When some banks are charging you a fee to deposit your own money into your own account, you have to ask if it's so bad to let technology giants mine your data in return for fee-free transactions.
Take Sweden as an example: it’s currently the most cashless society on the planet with a goal of phasing out cash payments by 2030. That's a future where you won’t be able to withdraw physical cash from an ATM or bank! This system still relies on the traditional banking institutions though, just without the added cost of having to handle cash.
As impressive as that is, back in 2007, Kenyans were being paid through a complex payment system that operated via text: no apps, no iPhone but any phone that was able to send a text. This system was launched by Vodafone, Safaricom & Vodacom – all telco providers.
Only 4 years after its introduction, more people in Kenya were using M-Pesa than who had a bank account. Could you imagine the ripple effect of that happening in New Zealand?
The result of M-Pesa in Kenya was that the poorest population were able to be paid without ever having bank accounts. The risk of extortion and robbery dramatically reduced and companies flourished without the traditional restrictions of running a business when tied to a bank.
If you have ever attempted to open a bank account without a job, proper documentation or a home, then you can easily see the appeal of this technology.
Out of all the benefits I’ve seen with digital currency, I still like cash. I’m only 38, before you ask, and it makes spending to me a tangible activity. Maybe that’s the point of getting rid of cash - to enable guilt free spending...
What’s your thoughts on cash. Do you love it or hate it?