Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that abolitionist and Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman will be honored by appearing on the front of America’s $20 bill. There has been a lot of discussion in the media about this, but one of the most interesting headlines was in USA Today:

Will we even be carrying cash by the time we get these new bills?

American currency has always been slow to change.  Consider the fact that the portrait of the most contemporary figure on our currency right now is Ulysses S. Grant.  Grant died in 1885, which means more than half our country’s recorded history has happened since his passing.  And the changes that have occurred more recently —the 3D security ribbon, color-shifting ink, watermarks, and the security thread among them—were implemented strictly as anti-counterfeiting measures.

Meanwhile, technology has been marching along and quietly pushing actual cash to the sidelines.

The days of standing in line at a bank counter may be numbered.

The use of cash for bigger purchases, and even the practice of carrying cash at has declined. A recent Bankrate study showed that 40% of consumers carry less than $20 in their pocket, with an additional 9% carrying no cash at all.

At the same time the use of debit cards to make payments has increased dramatically.  

And putting those “old fashioned” checks in the mail has become rarer.

A Federal Reserve study shows that from 2003 to 2012 the use of checks declined from 46% to 15% of noncash payments.

Stalwart cash proponents may point to a bill and quote the phrase, ‘THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.’  But those same people are hereby invited to try and pay for an onboard purchase on a flight with that same bill.  The snack, headset, glass of wine or beer is only coming to them if they have plastic handy, as per policy on nearly every major U.S. airline.  As Paul Skrbec, a spokesperson for Delta Airlines said, cashless cabins mean “increased convenience and speed of transactions for customers.”

Apparently airlines really do “want your money, but not your cash”—no matter whose face is on the bill.

This is a trend not only in America. Denmark is leading the global trend towards a cashless society:  the Danish government has proposed that most stores could function without cash sometime in 2016.  Business groups point to benefits such as reduced handling and transport costs, increased security and a drop in attempts to steal cash.

Norway and Sweden tell a similar story.  Scandinavians use cash for less than 6% of all payments they make.  In Sweden you can even use a card to buy street newspapers sold by local homeless people and sales of Situation Stockholm have increased after the mobile payments were introduced.  One of Sweden’s most famous citizens, musical group Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus, has been a vocal supporter of the elimination of hard currency.

Even the United Nations wants people to embrace virtual transactions. It cuts costs and improves transparency.  Yes, there are growing fraud and security risks, but the belief seems to be strongly tilted towards the benefits of not having potentially untraceable paper currency and the wrongdoing possibly generated in pursuit of said cash.  

A couple of bucks, greenbacks, dead presidents: whatever you call it, cash is becoming less and less essential every day, and the trend appears to be beneficial for society.  From debit and credit becoming the norm, to paying small business owners on the go with Square, to PayPal, to Apple Pay, to even paying your friends back via Facebook –  non-cash transactions are becoming more and more popular – and cash is becoming more and more of an anachronism.

The potential elimination of cash would have been unthinkable a mere 5 years ago.  Today, a swipe of your credit card or a wave of the phone in your hand show as digital transaction almost simultaneously in your email inbox. It’s normal to get your bank and credit card statements in PDF format or follow your budget on your phone. Want a paper statement by mail? Most financial institutions will demand a fee to stick on a stamp and drop it in the mailbox. And the check printing business is going the way of whale oil, buggy whips, and the bustle.

Technology is both the bridge and the culprit – it’s making this transition more and more possible every day.  

The amount of digital data worldwide that can be computed every second has grown and grown, and allows basically every transaction possible to be transacted, logged, recorded, and stored for future reference.  

How about your business?  Do you transact business in the fastest possible manner?  Are your records of transactions immediately available to you?  Can you find your records immediately, with only a few keystrokes to search?  Or are you still trying to “count back change” as you dig through paper receipts and invoices?

You may want to look at 5i Solutions Inc.  

5i Solutions brings your business cutting edge technology to transact business in today’s environment. Paper can be transformed into smart data. Information entered by pen that instantly appears in your electronic system. Document management solutions to rein in wasted search time and put every document—and every piece of every document—right at your fingertips. And all of it stored using 5i’s Cloud Vault technology so you never need to worry about security, and can access your data from anywhere, anytime.   

Innovative Ideas for Intelligent Interaction with Information.  

5i Solutions.  One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage.  One singular solution.

5i Solutions, Inc.

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