The Future of MoneyComment December 5, 2012 by Triangle Credit Union
As we at Triangle readied our electronic Person-to-Person payment system, Popmoney, for release, I was moved to contemplate the turn humanity was about to make. We’ve come a long way from barter to bits and bytes. In between, we’ve exchanged cattle (9000-6000 BC), Cowrie Shells (12,000 BC-mid 20th Century), Metal Coins (1000 BC-Present), leather (118 BC), Potlach (1500 AD), Wampum (1535 AD), and Paper (806 BC-Present).
What is money then if it can take so many forms? Well, by definition, it’s something of value. But how do we asses value? The answer is no more complicated than by agreement.
With each new advance in mobile payment technology and electronic person-to-person transfers, Google Wallet, Popmoney, etc. we seem to come closer to the agreement that very soon we’ll have no need for cash. There are plenty of reasons to suggest that this agreement will not be reached overnight. Many still depend on cash; for example, almost anyone working in the service industry, many small businesses, and the underbanked – those that can’t afford a checking account. From the vantage point of the Credit Union, disenfranchisement of any kind is never something that we would advocate. But looking to the example of M-Pesa in Kenya, where over 50% of Kenyan adults use a cell phone based money transfer payment system to pay for many of their daily expenses; we can see that mobile payment technology and electronic person-to-person transfers may actually have the potential to empower many of the underserved populations of the world. This is particularly striking when you consider that in 2012 75% of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone.
My thinking is that by introducing Popmoney, we’re out ahead of the move to abandon paper money. But all signs seem to show that the transition from cash to bits and bytes, the latest evolution in how humans conduct business, is well under way.
Ian - eCommerce Content Specialist