Living in a cashless society

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Cash is king, right? But check your pockets. Almost half of us walk around with less than $20. And with so many other ways to pay, including credit and debit cards, new technologies are pushing us to abandon paper money entirely. You could already be helping to make cash obsolete if you’re using one of the 37-million electronic toll tags on the road.

Maybe you’re using a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal or Samsung Pay.


Or, a person-to- person payment system via Square, Popmoney, Facebook Payments in Messenger, or Venmo to pay friends in a snap.



Branded apps from companies like Starbucks, Walmart, Uber and Dunkin’ Donuts make it simple for you to pay, while building customer loyalty for the merchants. But experts at Consumer Reports say there are potential down sides. Mobile payments can generate a mountain of digital data that can tell lots about us that we may not want people to know.


And the digitalization of dollars creates an irresistible target for cyber criminals. So consider connecting any technology to a credit card rather than your bank account. You might incur some fees, but you’ll get the same protections as if you used the credit card itself, which means cashless convenience may be more secure than you think.

Consumer Reports has information on living a cashless life in their report, Cashing Out: New Technologies Are Making the Convenience of Living Cash-Free a Reality.

In the future, you may be getting rid of more than just your wallet. One day, you may not even need your phone. New, cashless technologies on the horizon will let you make payments with just a fingerprint. And, an app is in the works that will let you scan merchandise and pay for your purchases as you walk through the store without ever going to a cash register.

Consumer Reports

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright © 2016 Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization that does not accept advertising and does not have any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.