Speaker Steve Brown, CEO of Pacific Coast Bankers’ Bank delivered a very interesting and entertaining presentation about where we are, relative to a cashless society, and where we may be headed.  By a show of hands, most Rotarians at our meeting think we are getting close to being a cashless society.  Steve says though cash won’t go away, its use is likely to diminish significantly.  He says you can access the Federal Reserve website to get statistics and other metrics that relate to this subject.
Cash usage, from 2012 to 2015, has decreased from 40% to 32% for payments made in our economic system.  The use of checks is down from 7% to 6%.  Checks are not significant as a payment transfer mechanism today.  However, debit and credit cards are used for 70% of payments.  Mr. Brown emphasized using credit cards as they have a limit when it comes to fraudulent activity of $50 whereas debit cards are unlimited until you discover the unauthorized use and close down the card.
Younger folks are carrying less cash than the generation before them and older citizens are carrying more cash than in the past.  This will likely diminish as our society ages.  Yes, demographics and technology are the primary drivers behind this shifting usage of payment behaviors and whether or not we choose to carry cash.
Digital currencies, such as bitcoin, and its virtual “ledger” blockchain, was discussed briefly and the point was made that, though it is in its infancy, it could be a sign of things to come as it relates to society’s norm for making payments between individuals and businesses.  Stay tuned.  The Internet of Things was also discussed briefly.  It will allow appliances (refrigerators and stoves, etc.) and things like your shirt and other articles of clothing to “hear” you speak and will be able to act on instructions you give these “devices”.
Questions from the audience included:
Can I start my own currency?
Will chips be imbedded in humans?
Is Europe ahead of us as it relates to credit card use in restaurants as the cards never leave your hands during the payment process?
What are the newly-emerging security issues today as it relates to hackers?
How will the older population, many of which do not use cell phones, react to, and deal with, these advances in technology?
All in all, the Cashless Society presentation left our club members more knowledgeable than they were before the meeting!  Several club members approached our speaker with questions and comments afterward.