Like it or not, the days of paper money are numbered. With an increasing transition worldwide to digital currencies, it looks like you’re going to have to dig out that wad of $20 bills under your bed and cash them soon enough. So what’s spurring this mass transition to digital currencies?
Well, as the developing world gains more access to banking services, vast swathes of them are bypassing straight to digital. As electricity hits rural communities in India and Africa, they’re not building banks to deposit their cash, they’re using the power grid and the internet instead. Developed nations across the world are watching these test cases, and are finding the switch to a digital currency yields many benefits. Read on for the many ways it can help us all.
It Reduces Crime
Now I know what you’re thinking, “won’t real-world criminals move to cybercrime?” Yes, some will. In fact, many already have. However, many illegal activities are still done with cash currency to make them harder to trace. When all that money disappears, many aspects of criminality could just fade away into memory as they struggle to make the new system work for them.
A move to digital currency does crime risks of its own, but in many ways, it makes the act of criminality much harder to achieve safely. If a mugger were to ask for your wallet, all they’d be able to get at best were bank and identity cards. It’s unlikely they could use them full stop, and even by the time they could you’d have alerted your bank to potentially fraudulent activity.
It Saves The Environment
The immediate cynical response to this would be “but a digital currency will have more people using technology, and therefore electricity.” That’s not necessarily true, and even so, there are many more net benefits to a digital currency when it comes to the environment.
Overall, you’re eliminating the carbon footprint of producing and distributing real money. You’re saving on the processes to make the materials for constructing money (paper or newer plastic-based variations). You’re saving on the distribution of this physical money across the country. You’re saving on all the times people take longer trips in their vehicles to get to somewhere with an ATM instead of going right to their destinations.
Any increase in electricity usage is negligible compared to the complete elimination of the carbon footprint that keeps our physical money system going.
It’s Overall More Convenient
This isn’t really something that constitutes “saving the planet,” but you have to admit it’d be great never to have to worry about having real money on you. No diversions to an ATM, everywhere takes card and contactless, and you can probably check your bank balance on every smart device you own.
Of course, there are obvious inconveniences if you lose your payment method while out and about, but they exist even with real cash. There’s no guarantee that if you lose your credit and bank card that you had the foresight to take out a little money to keep things ticking over, or at least get you home. In fact, a transition to digital currency might make banks and financial regulators think more innovatively about ways to pay to avoid those scenarios.
Biometrics, for example. Being able to pay for a drink with just the tap of your thumb may one day be a reality if digital currencies become the norm.