Should we be worried that Australia is going cashless?

Rummaging around the bottom of my bag on Friday, I found what I was looking for: 50c in loose change.

One 20c piece, two 10c pieces and two 5c coins were huddled in a dark, hidden corner. It was precisely enough to buy a McDonalds ice-cream cone, which was precisely enough sugary treat to keep my two-year-old occupied, while I raced around from the bank to the grocery store to finalise the day’s errands.

Finding change when you really need it (like when you need to feed a parking meter) is one of those little ‘wins’ in life.


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So it makes me a little nostalgic to think that in half a dozen years, we could be living in a cashless society.

According to Westpac, Australia will be totally cash-free by 2022. They’ve released a study, Westpac’s Cash Free Report, which says more than half of all Australians already live cashless.

Really? One in two people go about their days, entirely using EFTPOS and credit?

For now, that is (apparently) the case, but it won’t be the way we roll for much longer.

Instead, the finance Gods are forecasting that we’ll be whipping out the ol’ smart phone to pay for the crap we want, rather than handing over notes and currency.

It may be convenient, but it’s not my bag – at all.

To begin with, I don’t like consolidating things. It already bothers me that my phone is now my camera and laptop as well, which means if I break my phone, I also lose my camera and my emails.

If my phone soon becomes my wallet as well, I’ll have altogether too many of life’s essential functions tied up in one bundle.

That makes me nervous – and leads me to my second and much more serious consideration.

Security. If our phones are soon going to be responsible for our cash transactions as well, doesn’t that mean we’ll become vulnerable to sneaky cuber sleuths?

Do we risk our wealth being ‘hacked’ into digital oblivion?

Maybe, maybe not. But it seems clear that before too long, carrying cash in our wallet will be the savings equivalent of stashing your hard-earned money under your mattress?

The Meddler

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