Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Growth of Prepaid, The Decline of Cash

A world without
Cash (Photo:
cash is something that is hard to imagine, perhaps, we won’t see it in our lifetime. Granted, it may well happen but not in the next few years. However, there is already an evolution going on in regards of how consumers to pay for items. Credit cards and debit cards are the go-to options when paying for transactions in stores, restaurants, and even in the subway. Some may have even gone so far as to not carry cash around at all anymore. All they have is something that’s plastic in their back pocket. Chicago resident Louise Collis has taken this to heart, leaving behind cash and only using her cards. But she is not alone. 

There are times where you may find yourself going weeks, months, maybe even a year without even using cash. The usage of cards, now, is based upon the economy. Cash is still in high use because of the current recession from which we are recovering. But as the economy improves, the usage of credit cards will also increase. There are stores now that only accept cards or gift cards. After consumer complaints, commerce has listened. Many stores, offer consumers the opportunity to buy gift cards with cash and then use the gift cards to purchase items in-store or elsewhere. Consumers get the best of both worlds, this way - no bank account or credit needed.

The exchange of debit, and credit cards for cash currency happens all the time between people in more affluent societies.  But there are many stores that are not rushing at the chance to cater solely to them. WalMart is giving customers the opportunity to pay for items online with cash. 

It's not just stores either. From Japan to the United States to Mexico, people are using paper currency less. Whether it's transit or payroll, tax returns or remittances, many more people are using pre-loaded cards or apps for transactions without cash money ever coming into play.

Though I believe this country is far from removing cash all together, Sweden has become a cashless society where churches, yes, churches, accept your cards now instead of paper money. Could the U.S. possibly live in a society like that? Absolutely, but to believe that this will happen a year, ten or twenty years down the line, may be a bit of a stretch. It is an interesting notion to think about and that will be explored further. 

About the Author

Adam Wells studies English at Pace University and can be reached at 

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