Cold, hard cash is king. But maybe not much longer. In many countries, cash transactions are all but disappearing.
People pay with cash just 20 percent of the time in Sweden and only 14 percent of the time in South Korea. While these two countries are extreme examples, cash is on the decline elsewhere too. With widespread electronic payment methods—like credit cards, apps, and smartphones—fewer and fewer people are carrying wallets stuffed with paper.
What would it mean to live in a cashless society? Undoubtedly, we’d gain some convenience. But the end of cash might carry unanticipated costs too. Today, cash is the easiest way to buy things anonymously, whereas most digital transactions are tracked by some middle man. With no digital cash equivalent, then, a cashless society is a society in which we’ve traded financial privacy for convenience.
But maybe we already have the digital cash equivalent of the future. Maybe it’s Bitcoin. Here, Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer at the Human Rights Foundation, explains why Bitcoin will be a crucial alternative in a future of centralized digital money.