Another trend moving us closer to cashless is the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies. This started with bitcoin in 2009, but today there are more than 900 different types of digital cash. They are used to make secure electronic payments for goods and services. And yes, they can increase in value. In March 2017 the value of a bitcoin, at a high of $1,268, exceeded that of an ounce of gold ($1,233) for the first time. However, because of the level of anonymity they offer, cryptocurrencies are unfortunately often connected with illegal activity.2
One of the reasons there is so much innovation in new monetary systems is due to the onslaught of fraud and security breaches in recent years, such as the Equifax data breach. In that situation, the personal data of more than 143 million customers was potentially compromised. The apparent inability to prevent breaches has led to consumers having to freeze credit reports, enact fraud alerts and be more vigilant about monitoring bank and credit card accounts to verify charges.3
Then again, the more sophisticated we become, the more we seem to revert to the “old ways” for security. For example, some states are considering augmenting their electronic voting systems with paper backups.4
1Alex Gray. World Economic Forum. Sept. 21, 2017. “Sweden is on its way to becoming a cashless society.” Accessed Nov. 17, 2017. 2Cara McGoogan and Matthew Field. The Telegraph. Sept. 27, 2017. “What is cryptocurrency, how does it work and why do we use it?” Accessed Nov. 17, 2017. 3Jeff Blyskal. Consumer Reports. Sept. 12, 2017. “How to Lock Down Your Money After the Equifax Breach.” Accessed Nov. 17, 2017. 4Elizabeth Weise. USA Today. Sept. 19, 2017. “Paper ballots are back in vogue thanks to Russian hacking fears.” Accessed Nov. 27, 2017.
In the days before cash, people bartered goods and services. Then we established various forms of “cash” payments, from paper bills and coins to checks, credit and debit card payments. It seems that the more we progress, the less we use physical cash. Naturally, just because we’re not breaking out a wad of bills doesn’t mean we don’t want to have our assets stored elsewhere – perhaps some of it in savings, some of it in investments and some of it in insurance products. In fact, it’s a good idea to position our assets with the goal of generating several different income streams during retirement. We are happy to sit down with you to evaluate your current assets and design a financial strategy to help you pursue that goal. The world continues to move in the direction of a more cashless society. In Sweden, digital payments represent as much as 80 percent of all transactions in shops. The country is known for its innovation in technology, and consumers have been quick to embrace and utilize non-cash options with a high degree of confidence.