retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with The Content Guy.

There is a fascinating series of articles running on Slate.com that I want to draw your attention to, as the writers imagine what a cashless society might look like.

You can read the stories here.

The simple fact is that these days, if you don’t want to, you don’t really need to have cash in your pocket. All you need is a credit card and/or a debit card, and you can pretty much get through. I thought about this while reading the articles, and realized how many days I sometimes go without using actual paper money or coins. I was sort of amazed when I thought about it, the same way I was amazed when I realized I could drive from New York to DC and, because of EZ Pass, never need to have money in the car to pay tolls.

There are all sorts of implications to this shift. One is that me give the money-grubbing bankers even more control over our lives, because they’re going to get fees every time we use something other than cash.

There also are some positives, the articles make clear. Like a reduction in corruption - it is hard to bribe someone when the transaction is paperless and totally traceable. And maybe less crime - how likely is it that drug dealers are going to start taking credit cards? (Though they’ll probably figure out something.)

But there are negatives - like an end to spontaneous charity, or certain kinds of tipping. Also, inevitably, an end to the piggy bank manufacturing industry. And will penny loafers become a thing of the past?

Still, it is a fascinating trend that seems to be happening right before our eyes. And I’d be willing to bet that if you think about it, you may use cash a lot less than you think. And don’t forget - the UK is just a couple of years away from being a society in which checks do not exist, since the government has banned them as an inefficient method of making payments. (I rarely write checks. I let the bank handle all my payments.)

We are all on what the article calls an “unstoppable wave of technological progress,” and it is important that we all think about these things, about where the world is going, how it will affect us as consumers, how it will impact how we do business, and what will happen next.

Because if we don’t think about these things, we get caught unawares. And the real danger is that our competition won’t be, because they’ve been planning and strategizing all along, and now they have a competitive advantage.

And then, basically, we’re screwed.

That’s what’s on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I’d like to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: