Are we heading towards a cashless future?

Article created by Stephen Armstrong for Raconteur

What the future holds for financial services may be the stuff of present-day science fiction – or something far more revolutionary

If you’ve watched a sci-fi movie in the last 30 years, you’ll know what the future of money is – because no one ever pays for anything. From Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cab ride in Total Recall to Luke Skywalker getting a drink at a scary spaceport bar, nary a shekel changes hands. Which isn’t, it turns out, lazy scriptwriting – it really is the future of seamless payments.

Obsessed with removing the distressing, time-consuming and purchase-squashing horror of pulling a £10 note from your pocket, a host of digital startups, tech labs and major banks are looking to revolutionise every aspect of anteing up. They are turning to biometrics, data, artificial intelligence (AI) and even bio-implants to ensure you can leave your house, step into a driverless taxi and grab breakfast from your usual coffee shop without even thinking about payments. Indeed, the main reason for interacting with the smartphone or wearable banking app will be to manage your personal portfolio.

So dramatic are the anticipated changes that Francisco Gonzales, chief executive of Spanish banking giant BBVA, predicts the next 20 years will see an entirely new financial ecosystem being created, going from 20,000 analogue banks today worldwide to no more than several dozen digital banks. He predicts that diverse niche businesses will exist, but will be tied into the digital banks for the so-called banking rails that underpin transactions.

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