September 14, 2015
While I still bump into someone every once in a while that admonishes me for not thinking about putting a credit card on a cell phone, for the larger part the proverbial cat is very much out of the bag. There are large infrastructure providers gradually evolving the necessary foundation for seamless and ubiquitous digital commerce, and there are small upstarts trying to identify the killer app that will capture the imagination of the masses. The incumbent players or the more traditional providers in the payment space, as well as the so called disrupters operating at scale and leveraging their points of strength, all seem to now have the fundamental building blocks in place. They all are sensitized to the notion that the next big challenge is to drive adoption and scale.
The August of Money builds upon the thesis that while cash, which throughout the book is used to describe money in physical form for the purposes of transacting monetary value, has always been a state-driven or public utility provided to better the lives of its citizens, cash-replacement has largely been a private endeavor. That simple yet profound difference begs a very different analysis of how we will eventually build towards a true cashless society, how we embrace the existing infrastructure and evolving technologies, and if for some reason we take a misstep, how this misstep could adversely impact everything from socioeconomic growth to national security.
The August of Money draws difference between cash, cash-replacement, and cashless, as three interrelated but yet very different constructs, building an argument and eventually concluding that while the first is a utility, the second is a convenience, the third clearly needs to be treated as a pseudo-utility, and hence will require a very different approach in terms of its deployment, maintenance and regulation.
In the history of human development, the position of cash has been both sacrosanct as well as devious, enabling tremendous progress over the centuries as well as bringing out the worst in mankind. What love is for the poetic, cash is for the pragmatic. We cannot live with or without cash.
Irrespective of which side of this argument we find ourselves on, everyone will agree that the position of cash is truly unique. As hunters and gatherers, and subsequently as organized societies, and now as global citizens of a truly interconnected and flat world, cash continues to elicit a very tangible expression. It is a piece of paper or metal that we can easily carry on ourselves and has near ubiquitous acceptance as well as absolute anonymity for all practical purposes.
While different embodiments of cash have seemed to hold up well for the past several centuries, the past few decades have seen rapid progress in the context of cash-replacement. It’s safe to say that the next few decades are ripe for the further evolution to cashless.
Book Abstract - The August of Money examines the ongoing evolution of cash towards a true Cashless transaction environment. Based on the premise that while cash has always been a state-driven public utility whereas cash-replacement is a private endeavor, August of Money presents a different approach towards building a true Cashless Society, connecting the dots between the advent of eCommerce, Big Data and IoT, proposing the building blocks for the Utility and Usability, and speculating on how the ePlumbing for Cashless will impact everything from socioeconomic growth to national security. Learn More