With the acceleration of time, will we run out of cash?
“Youth is wasted on the young,” so said George Bernard Shaw. Only recently I read that this wasn’t exactly the quote he gave. To the question of what is the most beautiful thing, the Irishman responded:
“Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world—and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!”
It would seem that experience is counting for less and less when it comes to those in IT. More often than not, practitioners entering IT may be oblivious of others who have “seen a few things.” Remember when we first heard that cheques were going to replace cash but before that process had run its course, we were told that cards would eliminate both cash and check. Today, youthful exuberance is informing us that ubiquitous smartphones will assign all three – cash, checks, cards – to the scrap heap.
Looking at the behavior of some of those just entering the marketplace, new to IT, I recall another quote this time, straight out of Avatar:
“You are like a baby. Making noise …”
With the passage of time, all technologies trend down despite the best efforts of the evangelists that championed their adoption. Still considering implementing Unix? I have been looking at the future of smartphones and I have to say, even their popularity may be in transition. Still considering wearables? For those readers who may have missed some of my earlier posts, we are who we are and we should be recognized for that; we don’t need PINs and we don’t need passwords! So no, we don’t need smartphones. Well, at least, not as a replacement for cash – we can do a lot better than that!
Youth may be wasted on the young and many freshly-minted IT graduates may be starting out as babies, but even so, this is nothing new. I was regaled upon many times in my own youth for being a tad over the top and just a little too enthusiastic. However, with the passage of time comes experience and with experience, planning for what is to follow. Change is perpetual; we all have learnt that fixation on just one technology comes with a price. When it comes to financial institutions, change may appear to be happening a lot slower and it is for a very good reason – banks generally are conservative by nature.
They are risk averse to the extreme; customers don’t expect them to take risks. It’s their money. Banks above all else project responsibility and the latest fad or trend generates little interest; goals that may be set, however, are falling victim to the much faster passage of time only those with experience comprehend. Seasoned IT professionals know that when it comes to implementing change it happens best when baby-steps are taken.
While researching for a post to another blog I came across a post by Steve Denton, a well respected blogger. Commenting on the passage of time, he noted:
“In terms of the psychological perception of the passage of time, the years pass more rapidly as you get older (and) time literally seems to accelerate ….”
“But young people simply do not have this perception of temporal nonlinearity, and so they live their lives as if they were immortal, as if there will always be time to do the things they want or need to do, because time is on their side …”
On the other hand:
“… older people understand the importance of planning for the future (however tedious and ‘responsible’ that sounds to young people), because the future will arrive with frightening speed, and it is best to be prepared for it.”
All of this is by way of introduction to an article forwarded to me by Thomas Burg, CTO at software vendor, comForte. “Younger consumers expect mobile payments to replace cash soon” was the title of the article, and below is a quote from it:
“The majority of respondents under the age of 44 believe mobile will soon replace cash as their main payment method.”
Thomas Burg is a smart CTO and often challenges my take on technology. Responsible for creating products that generate real money, he’s focused on what’s happening now and I am always grateful for the comments he provides. More than once Burg has gently chided me for looking a little too far beyond my headlights. But could he be right in highlighting commentary such as this?
The question for the ages remains – will cash truly disappear? Or will today’s financial institutions labouring hard to avoid all risks be displaced by new institutions, aware of the headlong rush to the future, prepared to respond more quickly to change? When it comes to smartphones, will they be with us forever or are the latest smartphones just a passing fad? And yet, expressed another way, perhaps the question should be – will we need a device at all?
The current popularity of smartphones will not see them replacing all other instruments – they may be popular with one demographic but at best, smartphones represent complementary instruments (for financial transactions). Smartphones have their place but for those with experience, they are just another consideration and not the sole consideration – believing in one ring (of the phone) to rule them all should remain a part of fiction. Cash isn’t leaving us any time soon nor have we, dare I add, written our last check.
But cash, too, should be viewed as just another complementary financial instrument. Having just written this, the impact of cash on everything from new, transformed, branch offices to smarter ATMs, to paying for transactions initiated online, etc. will continue to be a factor in all our considerations. No, we will not be running out of cash any time soon but it will not be the sole consideration either. We will just see the breadth and diversity of options for payments continue to grow. Making a payment via augmented reality? Why, of course you can – no finger necessary, just your thoughts.
Many of the impressions of today’s youth will be realised that is, until the next generation of youth emerges anxious to champion their own ideas. In the meantime, what the respondents under the age of 44 believe needs to be considered on balance – just one more demographic to be catered to. They need support, of course, but not necessarily to the exclusion of all else. In time, making plans will become important and accommodating diversity an even bigger consideration. That’s what experience tells me, and I only have a finite time to communicate this message.
Youth indeed may be wasted on the young and their inexperience may cloud their judgment. Fortunately, inexperienced as they are and thinking they have all the time in the world (while noisily quashing anything they didn’t come up with) their raging against cash will hopefully subside. Having choice is always the best option. But maybe not – time will tell! In the meantime, the rest of us with more than a few years under our belts and who are sensitive to time continuing to accelerate and fully prepared to consider what’s coming next, the noise arising from youth demanding change will likely sound more and more like the cries of babies!
By Richard Buckle, founder and CEO of Pyalla Technologies, LLC