Elon University

The 2012 Survey: What is the potential future of monetary transactions in an age of hyperconnectivity to data in the cloud? (Credited Responses)

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the 2012 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.

Future of Money Survey CoverCredited responses to a tension pair on future of money, the Internet in 2020

This page includes credited survey participants’ contributions to the discussion of the future of the Internet and money by 2020. This is one of eight questions raised by the 2012 Elon UniversityPew Internet survey of technology experts, stakeholders, and social analysts. Results on this question were first released by Imagining the Internet Director Janna Quitney Anderson and Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in April 2012.

In a recent survey about the likely future of the Internet, technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split when it came to imagining what role device swiping for transactions may play by 2020.

>To read the official study report, please click here.<

>To read the responses of anonymous participants in answer to this question, click here.<

Following is a large sample of the responses from survey participants who took credit for their remarks when sharing their thoughts in the survey. Some are longer versions of responses that were edited to fit in the official report. About half of the respondents chose to remain anonymous and half took credit for their remarks (for-credit responses are published on a separate page).

Survey participants were asked, “What is the future of money? Explain your choice and share your view of any implications for the future. What are the positives, negatives, and shades of grey in the likely future you anticipate?” They answered:

“There will be a variety of technical problems in replacing physical cash and cards, but they will inevitably be overcome by something more convenient and ultimately more secure.” —Larry Lannom, director of information management technology and vice president at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), a research organization based in the Washington, DC, metro area

“We have already witnessed the transition from cash to debit/credit cards. The electronic wallet is not much more than a ‘virtual card,’ in which near-field wireless communication replaces the reading of a magnetic stripe. Compared to a move from cash to cards, the move from magnetic stripes to wireless appears rather simple. Convenience will drive adoption.” —Christian Huitema, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Corporation; active leader in the IETF; based in Redmond, Washington

“This outcome will occur long before 2020. The primary impediments to adoption have been, and will continue to be, the participants (and wanna-be participants) in the payment value chain. Operators will continue to attempt to insinuate themselves into the process at a premium rather than simply accepting their long-term fate of being minimum-margin bit-pipes for the masses. Transaction processors will continue to assert they are adding value when, in fact, they add none. Banks, if we are lucky, will be once again tightly hamstrung into serving their original intended purpose leaving opaque and exotic financial instruments to the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley who have long since shed the term ‘bank’ specifically for this reason. The consumer, on the other hand, is far more comfortable and protected in their financial dealings than in the days of plastic and magnetic strips. If they wish, every transaction that could be attributed to them is routed to their personal, secure grid for approval or denial. The more trusting of consumers will allow their personal persistent agent (virtual machine in the cloud) to make most of these decisions as it has constant access to their location, history (online through captured speech), and of course the ability to reach them.” —Rob Scott, chief technology officer and intelligence liaison at Nokia; based in Sunnyvale, California

“Widespread adoption of point of sale capabilities like NFC seems inevitable, along with the creation of robust and secure personal digital wallets. The parallel rise of reliable multi-factor biometric authentication will help secure electronic transactions.” —Mike Liebhold, senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future; at one time or another, a consultant for the FCC, Congress, the White House, OSTP, NTIA, the Internet Society, IETF, Internet2, and other key organizations; based in Palo Alto, California

“The 2020 date might be a bit optimistic, but I’m sure that this will happen. What is in your wallet now? Identification, payment, and personal items. All this will easily fit in your mobile device and will inevitably do so. But it may take a while. It is generally thought that two-factor authentication (secret + physical device) is better than one-factor authentication, and smart phones seem to have a natural role here.” —Hal Varian, chief economist at Google; based in the San Francisco Bay area, California

“Money is already a largely digital process. The modern fractional reserve banking system is backed by digital account balances at the Federal Reserve. The introduction of cryptographic protection to the instruments such as credit cards that we carry around with us is necessary and inevitable. The use of a simple string of digits that must be shared with any vendor with whom you transact is really a ludicrously insecure system that can and must change. On the other hand, the involvement of the government in our money may be reduced dramatically in the future, especially if they continue to abuse the fiat system that is now in place by over-issuance of currency. A return to a gold-backed system with private organizations playing the role of intermediaries is a definite possibility. The use of cryptography can help to improve the security and privacy of such a system.” —Peter J. McCann, senior staff engineer for Futurewei Technologies; chair of the Mobile IPv4 Working Group of the IETF; based in Bridgewater, New Jersey

“If by ‘most people’ you mean most people in Finland and the United States, maybe it will have happened by 2020. This question also presupposed that people’s attitudes are some kind of starting point for this potential development, and they are not. The driver here will virtually 100% be whether or not the credit card industry decides it can make more money through changing technologies. They can then put in the guarantees and other incentives to bring people around. People will do what seems to work for them and the financial community knows how to manage perceptions. So, what do I think will benefit the financial companies? I think 2020 is too early for them to find ways to make this work better than the highly profitable money machine they have in place.” —Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft; based in Redmond, Washington

“Most people will by 2020 have embraced the digitization of transaction, but a sizable infrastructure to support use of ‘real money’ will still be in place. Generally, I think migration to such ‘new digital worlds’ will be somewhat slower than expected due: a) to experts’ general over-estimation of the speed at which the general public embraces new technology, and; b) the long-term nature of the current economic crisis which slow investment in and uptake of tools to user in ‘new digital worlds.’”—John Horrigan, vice president of TechNet, a research organization; formerly at the FCC working on the National Broadband Plan and, before that, a researcher with the Pew Internet & American Life Project; based in Washington, DC

“Improved technologies for privacy and security have eroded the general distrust of technology and powered the advance of online commerce to the point where we think nothing of ordering songs, trips, and $1,000+ computing devices online. This trend will continue as the market determines the best way to do business at both the personal and enterprise levels.” —Mack Reed, principal, Factoid Labs, a consultancy on content, social engineering, design, and business analysis; COO, F8 Interactive, developer of life-like, non-violent games; longtime member of the WELL and the Burning Man community; based in Los Angeles, California

“The first choice is far from the likely scenario. ‘Cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared’ seems to me highly unlikely in a decade. But the second choice is even more improbable. The evidence is overwhelming that most people don’t give a damn what companies know about them and most prefer that the ads, etc. be targeted. Practical problems and inertia will slow things down, but privacy is uninteresting to most.” —Dave Burstein, editor of DSL Prime and Fast Net News; based in New York City

“Credit and debit cards will almost be dead by 2020, because of the convenience and lower costs of directing payments through mobile devices, either by swiping, near-field techniques, or other services offered by cell carriers or platform companies (like Apple). However, cash is here to stay because there is a wide range of use cases where anonymity is necessary, like illegal transactions (drugs, sex, bribes), gray economics (paying undocumented immigrants), or other sorts of secret activities (gift for a mistress). It’s conceivable that an anonymous form of digital money could serve in place of cash, like the design thinking behind BitCoin, but that remains to be seen.” —Stowe Boyd, principal at Stowe Boyd and The Messengers, a research, consulting and media business based in New York City
“On this one it’s ‘too soon to tell.’ The incorporation of RFID chips into credit cards and passports, with the concomitant growing acceptance of the need to actually use a shielding wallet, and the movement of ‘tin foil hats’ from the bizarre to the ordinary may impede this particular development.” —Sandra Braman, professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; chair, Law Section, International Association of Media and Communication Research; editor, Information Policy Book Series, MIT Press

“Not only will our notion of currency change as it becomes electronic and (even more) virtual, but I see the possibility for new currencies measuring new value. We could, for example, award and trade in points for responsible environmental behavior. I also see the possibility to create new currencies that cut across national borders, independent of governments. We have already seen the first nascent attempts to do this. It won’t be easy but it is theoretically possible.”—Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; author of ‘Public Parts’ and ‘What Would Google Do?’ and blogger at Buzzmachine.com; based in New York City

“There is nothing more imaginary than a monetary system. The idea that we solemnly hand around printed slips of paper in exchange for food and water shows just how trusting and fond of patterned behavior we human beings are. So why not take the next step? Of course we’ll move to even more abstract representations of value. Other countries are already content to use their phones; we’ll catch up eventually.” —Susan Crawford, professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; previously a leader on the ICANN board, President Obama’s Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, and founder of OneWebDay; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“I think these developments will happen in the third world first where there is no well-established banking system.” —Bill St. Arnaud, consultant at SURFnet, the national education and research network building The Netherlands’ next-generation Internet; research officer at CANARIE, working on Canada’s next-generation Internet; longtime Internet Society leader; based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“When credit cards arrived, checks did not disappear, and neither did money. Although in some places either cash or cards are accepted, there are three main methods of payment. If another method of payment is added, we will likely have four methods of payment and retailers and businesses must accept another form of payment. Some systems may emerge that use completely smart payments, but there will still be other forms of payment available. Many customers already trust PayPal and online payment systems, and it will not be difficult for there to be accepted mobile methods of payment as well.” —Amber Case, CEO of Geoloqi, a company that creates location-based software for commercial and enterprise use; cyborg anthropologist and professional speaker; based in Portland, Oregon

“One observation—watch for interest in gold standard to resurface in a big way.” —Stan Stark, consultant at Heuroes Consulting; based in Houston, Texas

“The smart swipe techniques will continue to gain ground, but 2020 is too optimistic.” —Jim Jansen, associate professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University; sits on the boards of eight international technology journals; serves on advisory boards for three Internet start-ups; based in Charlottesville, Virginia

“The younger generation, at first, will be more likely to adopt smart devices to handle all of their purchases. If history holds true, older generations would soon follow. In complex societies, people look for simplification. So long as protections are in place so that breaches in security will not result in a loss of money, and that identity protection is at a similar security level as it is now (or better), then people will be glad to adopt a ‘one-card-fits-all’ approach to purchase payments.” —Jon Cabiria, CEO of Teksylos Technology, a consulting company; psychologist and executive board member, American Psychological Association Media Psychology Division; based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Swipe and NFC are just means of exchanging credentials and intent. And cards are just tokens. We’ll see a lot more mixes.” —Bob Frankston, computing pioneer, co-founder of Software Arts and co-developer and marketer of VisiCalc, created Lotus Express, ACM Fellow; based in Newton MA

“Cash and credit cards as we know them are on their way out. Automation is here and will keep rushing in. The bigger question to me is whether the dollar will still be the mainstay of civilization, and in fact whether most transactions will be denominated in fiat currencies. Two reasons are looming that could drive that change. First, the global monetary system, always fragile, is more precarious than ever. People who led good lives and worked hard are finding their retirements ruined and their assets gutted, while they watch the tiny fraction of the wealthiest make more than ever and pay no taxes. That’s a bad formula. Second, it’s going to get incredibly easy to set up local currencies of all kinds that may not be coupled to fiat currencies at all, thus freeing them from the inflationary and deflationary vagaries of the global financial markets. Omnipresent automation will make this possible.” —Jerry Michalski, guide and founder, Relationship Economy Expedition (REXpedition); founder and president of Sociate; consultant for the Institute for the Future and corporate clients in many different industries; based in San Francisco, California

“Although consumers have come a long way in accepting online transactions, I think there will be some resistance—especially because of privacy and security issues—to smart-device swiping and an all digital marketplace over the next decade. However, as Baby Boomers age out and are no longer the dominant consumer group, younger, tech-savvy adults might lead the charge. I just don’t think we’re there, yet. What I do think will become more common, thanks to the Internet, is commerce based on sharing (zip cars, house sharing, etc.), not ownership.” —Melinda Blau, freelance journalist and the author of 13 books, including Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don’t Seem to Matter But Really Do; based in New York City

“There’s no doubt that the ‘future of money’ looks more like your first scenario and that many elites in urban environments will adopt new paradigms for exchanging money and goods. These same elites will be critical of the security and privacy issues and there will be non-stop warring among the elites about the state of economic exchange, using primarily utopian/dystopian rhetorics and talking extensively about trust in corporations/governments. That said, the majority of working class and lower-middle class people in advanced countries will not be passionate about the issue in either way but will still be extremely slow to adopt any of these systems. In many of the communities that I visit, using ATMs is still a radical thing done by the young. Their failure to adopt will not be because of security fears, but because the elite will still be battling this out and most people will just slowly wait and see what will happen. Adoption will happen generationally.” —Danah Boyd, senior researcher with professional affiliations and work based at Microsoft Research, Harvard Law School, New York University, and the University of New South Wales; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Technology-mediated payment will grow in tandem with new forms of cash or stored value, and all of this is predicated on growth in security of the technology, the procedures, and the assignment and conversion of value for that which is used as a medium of exchange (which may not directly be money).” —Marjory S. Blumenthal, associate provost at Georgetown University; adjunct staff officer at RAND Corporation; previously director of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies; based in Washington, DC

“Electronic payments and near-field communication devices would become ubiquitous, not entirely by popular choice, but by a combination of choice a) by a significant proportion of the population who are swayed more by superficial comfort rather than by more subtle concerns (such as the concern for privacy) and b) by coordinated ‘impetus’ by the Banking and Business sectors together with c) a strong Government agenda to move the financial system more and more towards a system that is more easily monitored. These forces have traditionally been very, very powerful and it is unlikely that the balance will shift so easily towards the will of the population in such a short time as ten years. So, even if there are vocal opinions expressed against the increasing adoption of electronic payments, the Banking sector may have its way.” —Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, president of the Internet Society-India Chennai; founder and CEO of InternetStudio, a Web development and IT services company; based in Erode, Tamilnadu, India

“As a privacy scholar, I wish it were the case that people would become more and more protective of their privacy (because they understood more fully how transaction-generated-information shapes the options that are placed before them (or withheld).) However, I see no signs to suggest any growing resistance to the apparent ease of transactions provided by a host of devices. I suspect that fears about financial privacy, and loss due to theft will be managed to a greater extent through insurance, either self-financed, or included in the service charges of the various providers.” —Oscar Gandy, emeritus professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania; based in Tucson, Arizona

“Perhaps a complete change will not happen by 2020, because in the Pacific not too many banks even offer credit cards. However, on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, overseas cards are accepted and is available in most shops. Therefore, I can see that the use of smart-device swiping for purchases may not be too far away. The main problem associated with a greater acceptance of this development is, of course, the security of online transactions. Because of their lack of understanding about how the Internet works and security facilities, there is a general mistrust about online transactions and how personal information and access to personal bank accounts can be protected. The Cook Islands government regularly sends personnel to update them on cybersecurity developments, to ensure that they are made aware of important governance issues relating to ensuring secure transactions practices. Online transactions are generally accepted through the use of cards and machines, so I do not foresee the transition to the use of another form of technology to facilitate purchasing as being too difficult to undertake. However, until such time as more stringent security structures are put in place via ICANN and other such organisations and subsequently by local ISPs to ensure the security of personal information online, then people in the Pacific will remain reluctant to absolutely do away with cash and credit cards.” —Maureen Hilyard, development programme coordinator for the New Zealand High Commission; vice chair of the board of the Pacific Chapter of the Internet Society; based in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

“Consumers never have cared about privacy. Why should they start now?” —Fred Hapgood, technology author and consultant; moderator of the Nanosystems Interest Group at MIT in the 1990s; writes for Wired, Discover, and other tech and science publications; based in Boston, Massachusetts

“The trend toward e-wallets and e-commerce will rapidly increase with the tremendous growth in mobile computing via smart phones. The positive scenario you propose can only happen with an evolution of identity protection and data security. Otherwise, the public trust will not be adequate to support the trend. This trend is enabled by the growth of wireless and cellular communications that enable even faster growth in the mobile computing arena than Internet based computing.” —Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs; named one of the Top 100 Most Influential CPAs by Accounting Today and one of the Top 25 Thought Leaders in Public Accounting Technology by CPA Technology Advisor; based in Towson, Maryland

“Near-field communications does not offer a compelling advantage over cash and existing ‘pay wave’ type proximity-enabled credit cards. While many will adopt the technology as a matter of course—particularly the young who have not considered the privacy implications—the aging population demographic alone will ensure the continuing prosperity of the cash economy. Also, NFC introduces costs for retailers that will slow its adoption, especially in light of the lack of a compelling problem for NFC to solve. What I do anticipate is a more general use of mobile-device based currency in developing countries, and to some extent in developed countries where the mobile-minute functions as a representative currency redeemable on demand, and thus according to monetary theory is preferable to the purely fiat currencies of countries where that currency experiences instability. If peak-energy eventuates, i.e., peak-oil before solar and other energy sources are able to mature in the low-energy-cost environment necessary to support large-scale research and development, then centralised corporate money processing systems may be subject to shocks that will drive people back towards cash and representative or commodity currencies that they can hide under their mattresses. Political shocks that demonstrate the ability of corporate and/or government interests to freeze, seize, or otherwise interfere with people’s ability to control their own financial resources and transactions (consider ‘net neutrality’ becoming ‘cash neutrality’ under NFC) will push people towards even fiat currencies because of their physical nature even though their value may be manipulated by government as the scope to do so is much less than with a fully-digital currency.” —Paul Gardner-Stephen, rural, remote, and humanitarian telecommunications fellow at Flinders University; founder and director of the Serval Project; based in Adelaide, Australia

“There are problems with e-cash, but these can be overcome. This does not take very advanced technology. As an example, on a visit to Istanbul I purchased an Akbil electronic transport token.” —Tom Worthington, adjunct senior lecturer, Research School of Computer Science, Australian National University; also active in CSIRO ICT Centre Telecommunications Board, Australian Computer Society; based in Canberra, Australia

“The trend toward e-wallets and e-commerce will rapidly increase with the tremendous growth in mobile computing via smart phones. The positive scenario you propose can only happen with an evolution of identity protection and data security. Otherwise, the public trust will not be adequate to support the trend. This trend is enabled by the growth of wireless and cellular communications that enable even faster growth in the mobile computing arena than Internet based computing.” —Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs

“On one hand, all-digital payments offer convenience and cost savings that cash cannot offer. On the other hand, cash provides better financial privacy. Payment habits change slowly, but consumers have previously shown that they will go for convenience and cost savings over privacy every time. In East Asia, contactless mobile payments are already widely used. In 2020, I predict merchants will also be offering completely automatic context-aware micro-payments that require no action on part of the consumer: simply grab a can of soda or hop on a tram, and you will be charged automatically. Virtual currencies will continue to be used as complementary money in closed-loop systems.” —Vili Lehdonvirta, researcher at the University of Tokyo and visiting scholar at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology based at Aalto University, Finland

“This is interesting sociological question (see Georg Simmel’s work). The money has already become functional and its concept is based on mutual trust in the ‘money.’ While the cash will still have some value to some people (throwing cash around) I believe that this functional model of money in the modern society will prevail unless something happens which will break this mutual trust in the money (big financial crisis, war, etc.).” —Ondrej Sury, chief scientist at the .CZ Internet registry, CZ.NIC; active leader in the IETF; based in Praha, Czech Republic

“Yesterday, ATMs influenced banking and today it’s the Internet. We see it with PayPal and online retailers. Many organizations can match their online revenue to their stores. Again, it’s just a matter of time. Organizations will find a way around security/compliance in order to compete and gain share. Again, people/staff are being removed from the equation as systems and interfaces become more automated and mechanic.” —Adrianne Bockhorst, interactive marketing manager, Johnson Financial Group; based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“Financial institutions have lost most of their credibility and will continue to do so as they have failed to manage the age-old challenge of greed. As technology requires of institutions an even greater sense of responsibility, caution, and integrity, they will fail to implement new ways to transact business. Technology is no substitute for ethics, reputation, or morality; quite the contrary, it magnifies any deficiencies in the above.” —Fernando Botelho, F124 Consulting, an international consultant on technology and development

“The efficiencies brought about through the use of near-field communications may enable banking institutions to provide ‘security insurance’ for those who are willing to take advantage of the technology. The banking institutions may be willing to suffer losses as the result of security breaches and will insure themselves against major loss as a result of large-scale security breaches. If the consumer has assurances they will not suffer financial loss as a result of using the technology, adoption may rapidly advance as the convenience factor may override ‘big brother’ fears.” —David Lowe, innovation and technology manager, National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, a nonprofit organization; based in Arlington, Virginia

“Smart-swiping devices will be prevalent by 2020, in fact they already are. This way of spending in retail establishments, online purchasing, etc., is already a dominant mode of financial interaction. I can only see it becoming even more widely adopted by 2020.” —David Morris, managing director of research for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; based in Lansing, Michigan

“The monetary incentives for cyber-criminals to attack payment systems are so great that people will not migrate en mass to any new systems that are perceived as insecure. In addition, I do not see any substantial progress being made during the time period on the problem of certain countries being used a ‘safe havens’ for cyber-criminals. As long as the cyber-criminals are confident that they have a safe haven and the means to employ the best hackers and coders, new payment technologies will linger. Further, the widespread use of new payment technologies requires that applicable security measures be readily available and relatively inexpensive. I do not see any great likelihood that that will be the case.” —Henry L. Judy, an attorney contracted for his expertise in corporate, commercial, technology, and financial law by Washington, DC, firm K&L Gates LLP; based in Asheville, NC

“In dense urban areas the shift will be faster, while rural and suburban areas may continue to stay with magnetic stripes and paper money. The real question is whether alternative currencies (Bitcoin, etc.) will make headway or remain a geeky pastime.” —Alex Halavais, associate professor at Quinnipiac University; vice president of the Association of Internet Researchers; technical director of UCHRI Digital Media & Learning Hub; managing partner of Forward Memory; author of Search Engine Society; based in New York City

“Security is absolutely critical in having a trustworthy system of managing money electronically. Already, many people have all but abandoned carrying cash and using checks in favor of things like PayPal, credit cards, etc. Ultimately, convenience wins, often at the expense of security. The key will be to find ways to secure the system while not losing too much of the convenience inherent in it.” —Wesley George, principal engineer for the Advanced Technology Group at Time Warner Cable; he also works with IETF; based in Herndon, Virginia

“While I am concerned about the transaction costs/profits extracted by companies that provide electronic payment infrastructure, I believe that the convenience and potential security of electronic transfers will win out. There will be a need for people to have an ‘anonymous’ wallet that can be used for payments that are not traced to them personally. There will still be some cash but it will be not widely used. Credit card companies will work themselves into the ‘swiping’ market so will still be as much a feature as they are today in purchasing, perhaps more.” —Bruce Nordman, research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; co-chair, EMAN, Internet Engineering Task Force; based at Berkeley, California

“I’d have guessed somewhere in-between. I think swiping will have ‘gained a lot of traction,’ but not to the extent of near-total replacement. The replacement will not be nearly as slickly corporate as the first alternative’s language seems to imply. The paperless digital economy will exist to a considerable extent under cover of a darknet, with LETS, credit-clearing systems a la Greco, etc., using encryption technology and a lot of re-localized economic activity (like raw milk, micro-manufactured knockoffs of patented industrial designs, non-chipped livestock, etc.) that violates zoning, licensing, and spurious ‘health’ and ‘safety’ laws sucking commerce out of the official above-ground economy.” —Kevin A. Carson, research associate at the Center for a Stateless Society, the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives; based in Springdale, Arkansas

“Whilst there is a continuing trend towards electronic and smart/swipe payments, they will still only represent a minority of payments. This is because of the continual attachment to physical currency and seemingly outdated payment methods favoured by the older generations, for example see the continual struggle to phase out cheques in the United Kingdom. Security concerns will also play a large part, due to expected criminal cyber attacks, which will delay the uptake of any digital currency. This security threat will also hamper the development of technology banking companies who deal with digital transactions due to the sheer cost of insurance against theft.” —David Saer, foresight researcher for Fast Future, a consulting business; based in London, United Kingdom

“People are already starting to adopt near-field devices: convenience is driving this at the moment. But later on, as the whole idea of money begins to be called into question, such electronic transactions will become increasingly important as a way of carrying on life without traditional fiat currencies.” —Glyn Moody, self-employed author, editor, and journalist; active voice in online social media networks; based in London, United Kingdom

“This is just a matter of time to improve security, trust and confidence. Smart devices will replace cards, in a sort of disruptive technology change. Both are mediums and we will always have banks. This is not to say it will be a worldwide change, as countries and regions differ considerably.” —Miguel Alcaine, head of the International Telecommunication Union’s area office; based in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

“‘Money’ had been gold or silver coins for over two thousand years. It was followed quickly by fiat money in the 19th century, which is/was backed solely by the ‘good faith of the issuing country.’ During the late 20th century, credit cards and debit cards had taken over much of the retail commerce on a global basis, and during the last decade of the century ‘checks’ nearly disappeared from all countries except the United States. By 2020 the migration will continue to low latency highly encrypted and ‘instantly authenticated’ funds transfer through electronic communications devices, sometimes without any instrument involved other than an encrypted proximity reader (which also starts your auto and unlocks the door to your office or residence). Safety and security will not be totally solved, since crime is an essential part of the human condition; however the willingness of people to take the electronic communications risk will far outweigh their concern over theft (monetary or identity).” —William L Schrader, independent consultant; founder of PSINet in 1989—largest independent publicly traded global ISP during the 1990s; lecturer on the future impact of the Internet on the global economic, technology, medical, political, and social world; based in Sterling, Virginia

“Cash—tangible, hold-it-in-your-hand dollars—has been around for millennia. It won’t go away in a decade.” —Jeff Eisenach, managing director and principal, Navigant Economics LLC, a consulting business; author of numerous books and articles on technology and economics; formerly a senior policy expert with the US Federal Trade Commission; based in Washington, DC

“People are dumb. People like convenience. People like cool, new technology. Of course they’ll go for it! Security concerns? Sure, maybe for like, 2% of the population. Come on, identity theft is already everywhere. It’s not like the system is already so secure.” —Melissa Ashner, student at the College of William and Mary

“Seeing the impact of M-PESA in Kenya, across all social classes and age-bands, convinces me that people will adapt to the new m- or e-transaction systems. They will also be pressured relentlessly by commercial interests to do so.” —Pete Cranston, digital media, knowledge sharing and ICT4D (information and communication technologies for development) consultant; based in Oxford, UK

“The Internet has already changed the attitudes of many people towards both privacy and security. Particularly in the United States, people have come to accept identity theft (often done through the Internet) as an unfortunate fact of life. Less dramatically, Americans are already increasingly ‘trusting’ online commerce (where ‘trust’ may actually mean ‘hope’—for the sake of convenience—that one’s financial information is secure).” —Naomi S. Baron, professor of linguistics and executive director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning at American University; based in Washington, DC

“Paper money will be gone, provided the safety of virtual money is addressed properly—all virtual money and value papers will have embedded features for privacy and trust. All tokens will be wrapped with an unbreakable ‘Cloud Seal’ (the updated version of the old notary seal). All transactions and all claims will be checked in real time by mobile phone before they are executed, thus preventing fraud. Lying becomes very difficult—we will use all sorts of local money, like the Totnes Pound, that is ‘non-speculative’ by nature. Local money will prevent a global financial meltdown.” —Marcel Bullinga, futurist and author of Welcome to the Future Cloud – 2025 in 100 Predictions; based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“Cash has already disappeared and plastic is just an intermediate device waiting to be replaced. The security, reliability and costs associated with maintaining plastic will drive issuers and merchants to adopt hardware and software solutions, while consumers will be motivated by convenience and functionality. Already, early solutions are starting to see significant traction and I expect that this trend will continue and potentially accelerate.” —Ross Rader, general manager at Hover, a service of Tucows; board member of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority; based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“Cash or my credit cards work (almost) everywhere in the world. My smart phone? To quote Borat, ‘Not so much.’ Again, it comes down to evaluating individual resiliency in the face of creeping technological determinism and globalization.” —Richard Forno, cybersecurity graduate program director at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC); visiting scientist, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University; based in Washington, DC

“I expect that by 2020 significant progress will have been made in eliminating cash and credit cards. Although a large number of older persons will insist on methods of exchange that they feel will be more secure, the trend is clear among young persons today. Also, the experiences of consumers in countries such as Finland, Korea, and Japan are indicators of the future of retail commerce.” —Hugh F. Cline, adjunct professor of sociology and education at Columbia University; retired from a position as a senior research scientist and administrator in an educational testing company; lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and works in New York City

“A generation that’s willing to participate in Facebook clearly is not going to boggle at trusting technology with mere money. I am terrified of how much Google knows, and I wouldn’t be caught dead on Facebook but I mostly pay for purchases with a credit card, which is different only in degree from paying with my phone. And I love PayPal; it lets me feel confident buying online from small merchants.” —Brian Harvey, lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley; based in Berkeley, California

“Look how rapidly credit and debit cards have replaced cash and checks and how fast ATMs and Internet/e-commerce has been adopted. Once a critical mass of people adopt this technology and demonstrate that it is a secure means for handling transactions, the convenience will drive a majority of people to adopt it. Of course there will be some that will absolutely resist the technology. I know people who still withdraw money only from a bank teller, don’t have direct deposit and pay bills in person with cash. These are a vanishing minority.” —Michael Goodson, assistant project scientist at the University of California-Davis; based in Davis, California

“Cash may disappear, or be curtailed. It’s one source of infectious diseases for clerks.  I would like to see credit cards and credit card companies be abolished. The haphazard ‘system’ ends up with companies making their profits off people’s mistakes, which are then encouraged. This was not socially engineered well. 2020 may be too soon to hope for change in our money economy, but I fervently hope that an alternative may be created. The basis of money is trust—not the paper, not the credit card.” —Sasha Newborn, works at home for Bandanna Books; based in Santa Barbara, California

“2020 may be premature. If the retirement age stays 65, in 2020 less than half the working population of the developed world will be digital natives (approx. 37% from ages 15-34; 63% from ages 35-64). The oldest of the digital natives will be just entering top management and decision-making roles. People are resistant, but that will wane as security solutions will come hand in hand with the development and adoption of viable digital transaction systems and other advantages of a digital system are understood. (It was not that long ago that we switched from checks to credit cards.)” —Pamela Rutledge, director, Media Psychology Research Center, Fielding Graduate University, and instructor, UC Irvine Extension Business School; based in Palo Alto, California

“The key point here is the date. The case currently—and one that is likely to persist until 2020—is that the level of interpersonal trust in the United States and many other countries is becoming less. In a less trustful climate, people are and will be less likely to engage in practices that they feel will needlessly leave them vulnerable unless it can be shown to them that these practices will carry significant benefits for them. As described, the scenario does not suggest the existence of compelling benefits. Some have tied the growing lack of trust in society to the growing inequality distribution of wealth within society (e.g., The Spirit Level). There is little indication that this inequality is likely to be reversed anytime soon, and there are indications that the inequalities of many important countries (cf., the Gini Index in the United States and in China) are reaching historically dangerous levels. Therefore, the chances are slim that trust and concomitant acceptance—let alone embracing, of new forms of economic and personal information transfers—will be significantly higher in 2020 than they are today.” —Donald G. Barnes, visiting professor at Guangxi University in China; former director of the Science Advisory Board at US Environmental Protection Agency; based in Alexandria, Virginia

“This will depend on regulation, which recognises that the benefits of new financial technologies accrues mostly to producers rather than consumers. The obligation for insurance against fraud, etc., must lie with producers/vendors rather than consumers/buyers, and providing that this obligation is ensured by regulation, electronic commerce will continue to flourish.” —Paul Wilson, director general, Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, the Regional Internet Registry for the Asia-Pacific region; previously with the Association for Progressive Communication; based in Brisbane, Australia

“Yes, most people will be using this smart-device swiping stuff. However, I think a ton of people will not want to be doing it. They’ll have to though because they’ll realize that’s where everything is moving. It’s like people today who insist on writing checks for everything, like my grandparents. Sorry, checks are extremely limiting today. Cash is going that way these days. Want to buy something online? It is impossible to use cash. Did everyday people will all this to happen? Maybe. But the form money takes will be largely dictated by the corporations who own these forms of payment. If there were no credit card companies, there would be no credit cards. Sure, people pick up on these forms of payment because they’re easier, but it’s not easier for everyone, yet those people who don’t see it as easier end up having to conform anyway. That’s how I see smart-device swiping. Many people won’t trust it, but they’ll rely on it anyway. Many people don’t trust the government, but they rely on it anyway. Many people don’t trust all kinds of people and organizations (banks, bosses, scientists, etc.) but they rely on them anyway because they have no choice. It’s a risk inherent in modern life to rely on people, processes, and institutions that we don’t understand, have no input into, and so on. So will people be using this payment technology by 2020? I think so. Will they have ‘embraced’ it? Not necessarily.” —David Kirschner, PhD candidate and research assistant at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

“I don’t think it will be security concerns that will stall the adoption of NFC so much as the effort involved with getting the infrastructure for its use in place on a national scale in the United States.” —Steve Jones, distinguished professor of communication, University of Illinois-Chicago; a founding leader of the Association of Internet Researchers

“Money will be a largely virtual and symbolic concept, rarely used in physical form, which will be especially beneficial as more transactions are made across international borders.” —Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

“With the advent of smart cards or similar instruments, necessities of carrying individual documents or instruments for traveling or purchasing or acquiring other civic facilities will be eliminated.” —Hakikur Rahman, chairman of the SchoolNet Foundation of Bangladesh and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Minho, based in Portugal

“Each succeeding generation of technology claims it will eliminate or destroy its predecessors. Nine years is just too short a time to have this sort of impact on global consumer behaviour that has arisen over literally thousands of years. There are just too many unanswered questions—how do we differentiate from credit and cash purchases, privacy, discounting? I do think that NFC will be well ensconced as an alternative currency mechanism by 2020, just not the dominant one.” —Richard D. Titus, a seed funding venture capitalist at his own fund, Octavian Ventures; producer of documentaries, including Who Killed the Electric Car?; chairman of the board for European video tech start-up Videoplaza; based in San Francisco, California, and London, UK

“The transition to digital money is well under way—cash is an inconvenience. How far this transition will progress by 2020 is of course open to debate; and there have been many false starts before. But the trend is clear.” —Lee W. McKnight, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation, Syracuse University; founder of Wireless Grids; co-founder of Summerhill Biomass; president of Marengo Research; principal investigator of Wireless Grid Innovation Testbed (WiGiT); based in Syracuse, New York

“I do not think the changes outlined in the first scenario will come about in eight years, but not for the reasons given in the second scenario. At least in the United States, banks resistance to change is so great that we are still using checks and I expect we will still be using them in eight years. Since there is far less money to be made from offering useful retail banking services than in other forms of banking there seems no incentive for banks to focus on improving that aspect of their business any more than they have for the past twenty years. I believe people would welcome the improved services in the second scenario and will not be distrustful of NFC, mobile payments, or security, provided they are not asked to assume financial responsibility for any security risks that exist (i.e. it’s the banks responsibility to make new systems secure and pick up the tab for fraud that occurs as a result of problems with those secure systems). Only a minority of people seem concerned about releasing information on personal purchases to corporations—it’s not clear people would see that much differently from the credit card company knowing their purchases as it does today.” —Mark Watson, senior engineer for Netflix and a leading participant in various technology groups related to the Internet (IETF, W3C), specifically dealing with video standards; based in San Francisco, California

“Old people, and corporations, change slowly, unless forced. Kids will rapidly adopt NFC and other technology, but kids are the minority in advanced countries (birth collapse, the ‘technology contraceptive’). Corporations will be happy to milk oldsters for exorbitant check and credit card handling rates, as they do today, and to keep all these systems unsecure as long as possible, as that allows insurance companies to make a lot of cash off of ensuring against identity theft, etc. Financial companies make the most money of any business class, and they have incentives to keep things nontransparent and changing the least slowly. Expect rapid adoption of these ‘leapfrogging technologies’ in less advanced countries (eg. M-PESA mobile banking in Kenya/Africa) and by youth everywhere, but that will be remain a minority of total global commerce. Eventually these platforms will create a competitive advantage, but when they do, credit card companies will (finally) drop their rates to remain competitive, or buy up and consolidate the largest of these mobile platforms.” —John Smart, professor of emerging technologies at the University of Advancing Technology; president and founder of the Acceleration Studies Foundation; based in Mountain View, California

“A senior Melbourne transport official recently insisted it will be ten years before we can use our iWhatevers for transit ticketing. I’m sure he is wrong. The market will run with it as they have with BPay and other simplifying technologies, even if some vendors have to be dragged kicking and screaming. And ticketing is clearly key to gaining wider acceptance. I have already managed to get into a few events by presenting the ticket PDF on my iPhone, though I’m not about to try that at the AFL finals with their barcode-activated turnstiles.” —Tony Smith, secretary for the Kororoit Institute Proponents and Supporters Association; publisher at Meme Media; Open Source Developers Club; based in Melbourne, Australia

“Mobile devices have a clear field, emotionally and psychologically, for a future where—on the spot—a purchase, a barter, and/or an IOU can be transacted. My only fear is that we do not allow for so much authority to arise that certain segments of our population are denied access to this marketplace. For good measure, please re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which relies on the premise that all women lose the right to own property and to use their own banking accounts—a premise easily believed since the scenario described above allows for a centralized oversight of the services.” —Randolph Hollingsworth, assistant provost, University of Kentucky; webmaster for Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice and other organizations; member of H-Net (Humanities and Social Sciences Online) Council; Wikipedia editor; based in Lexington, Kentucky

“Demographics will continue to play an important role in the adoption of near-field communications now and in 2020. The under-35 demographic is already adapting and accepting the ‘electronic’ methods of payment. Their parents were introduced to debit and credit cards and have carried less and less cash over the past ten years. This has been witnessed by the under-35 demographic who will find NFC a simple maturation or progression of the same.  The over-35 demographic will, now and in 2020, continue to be challenged and apprehensive about NFC options. This demographic, especially the Baby Boomers (who will still be major purchasers in 2020), put incredible importance and value of having ‘cash’ in one’s pocket and being able to control the outlay of cash. This segment has been less likely to move to ‘debit’ cards or Electronic Deposit unless mandated by employers to do so. The value is on the paper check or cash. It is hard to value what cannot be seen. The various demographics will cause the need for a variety of payment options to continue to be available now and through 2020. NFC will become the predominate method of payment once the current under 35 demographic is replaced.” —Kevin Novak, VP for integrated Web strategy, technology, American Institute of Architects; co-chair, eGov Working Group, World Wide Web Consortium; speaker, author on Web, electronic government; consultant to World Bank on the eTransform Initiative; based in Washington, DC

“The first scenario only holds for the ‘more advanced’ economies. It also depends on the willingness of financial institutions to enter generalized systems, which will seriously transform the competition scene. This may be a far more powerful limiting factor than people’s concern for control and privacy, which can be expected to rise.” —Michel J. Menou, visiting professor at the department of information studies at University College London; based in Les Rosiers sur Loire, France

“Device swiping is more convenient. The line between greater convenience and mass adoption is very straightforward in most instances and in almost all instances involving payment for services.  Another scenario to consider: The internet enables a robust barter economy and the creation of new currency forms on the go. Japan’s Fureai Kippu system is one example. It’s a system where workers trade ‘elder care’ among themselves. So a worker in Toyko with parents in Nagano finds someone in Nagano willing to take care of their aging parents and vice versa. It enables a host of such potential exchanges. Value follows scarcity, which is shifting away from currency, and unites to individual time units and skills. Douglas Rushkoff writes prodigiously on this.” —Patrick Tucker, deputy editor of The Futurist magazine and director of communications for the World Future Society; based in Baltimore and Bethesda, Maryland.

“I for one welcome my beast-marked future financial transactions. Just look into my eye–biometrically of course—and add to my e-wallet. E-wallets aren’t a giant leap from credit and debit cards.” —Paul Jones, clinical associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

“I am not sure if by 2020 a full adoption will have taken place, but I know that massive strides will have been made towards that end. Older generations today are more apprehensive of technology because the world they knew and trusted was a simpler one without the types of technology that are around today. As new generations are born and live their entire lives with technology, they are inherently more trusting of technology because it’s the only world they have known. People were apprehensive of the debit card and it took a long path (by today’s technology adoption rates) to be adopted. When people realize the utility and ease that a full hardware/software system can offer, they will use it. There is also an aspect here of banks ability to compete. Banks traditionally could compete on geographic region, then when they went online they could compete on product bundles and services, the future is a competition on who can create the easiest and fastest payment experience. This is fueled by the massive amount of money that is to be made by private companies through creating the technology to facilitate this. I see it as almost certain.” —Kris Davis, user-experience designer for Webvisible; based in Costa Mesa, California

“Money and the financial systems that control the flow of wealth must evolve to support the rapid transformation of humanity. As we become more digital, less corporeal, so must our economic and financial structures. Trust must find a digital expression that transcends risk. Exchanges of digital currency must become evermore transparent and efficient. Material objects are likely to become less costly as the cost of production becomes inconsequential. Eventually, things will require little effort to produce and resources used (including information) will be almost infinite in supply. Cost will be irrelevant. Benefit-driven acquisition will prevail and benefit to the whole will be paramount.” —John Davis, independent distributor based in San Diego, California

“There are too many sectors that depend on cash. In most places you still can’t even pay for a cab with a credit card, and the same is true of other very small businesses. Also, with an unstable economy banks and other institutions may be sees as less dependable than cash.” —Ruby Sinreich, director of new media strategy and the Digital Media & Learning Competition at the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory based in Durham, North Carolina; lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

“The shift towards e-money is largely the case in 2011. Consistently, there is no reason to predict a comeback on this issue.” —Raimundo Beca, partner at Imaginacción, a Chilean consulting company, and longtime ICANN leader; based in Santiago, Chile

“Step outside the United States and you will see that the cashless economy is already here. In a country like Canada, where the relative centralization of the banking industry made it relatively easy to develop point-of-purchase payment mechanisms, the use of cash is already in decline. As private mechanisms for payment acceptance become easier and more widespread (think PayPal, Square) the relevance of cash will dwindle. This is another case of convenience trumping anxieties about privacy.” —Alexandra Samuel, director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design; based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“Some people might trust the smart device, but most people might not trust it completely. Only a small amount transaction with acceptable risk might be the limit to use a mobile device for most people. Most likely, it might become a verification device instead of the transaction device. Especially since many possible security flaws might occur through the use of mobile or remote devices.” —M.C. Liang, National University of KaoHsiung, Taiwan

“It will be mixed, with the diversity of the market place necessitating different solutions. While it is certainly true that these types of solutions may work for the elite with smart phones, it is not clear how far that penetrates to the rest of society. There may be smart devices that function very similarly to credit cards, but not all people have or want credit cards. There is optimism about compelling solutions, but security needs must be satisfied—and the individuals in the market place are diverse. I think the hesitation here is not that the first statement is untrue, but that it is not diverse enough to cover all situations.” —Robert Cannon, founder and director of Cybertelecom; senior counsel for Internet law in the Federal Communication Commission’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis; based in Washington, DC

“Data packages required to optimize ownership of a smart phone will still be too expensive, too slow, and throttled with spotty coverage. Also, when a major terror attack occurs (i.e., EMP blast, water poisoning, etc.), fuel/ammo/food will be the dominant forms of currency anyway.” —Natascha Karlova, PhD candidate in information science at the University of Washington; HASTAC Scholar; based in Seattle, Washington

“I already see the growing use of digital monetary transactions in my world, and increased support for them. I’m not completely sure the credit card will go away, I suspect cards will get ‘smarter,’ and have more data stored on them. Perhaps we’ll have cards that contain a key to multiple accounts. There are some serious discussions of alternate forms of currency, growing in volume as economies seem increasingly shaky. I suspect there’ll be innovation here—evolution not just of the medium of exchange but also of the value it represents.” —Jon Lebkowsky, Internet pioneer and principal at Polycot Associates LLC; consultant and developer for mission-driven nonprofits and socially responsible companies; president of the Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin; based in Austin, Texas

“There are issues and challenges but I am confident industry and policymakers and other stakeholders will come together to solve these challenges. Educating users of the risks and risk management will be key to success. I also worry, though, where all this will leave the less advanced countries—we may be creating new forms of the digital divide simply because technology keeps on evolving at a rapid pace and not every economy is able to keep up. At the same time, there is opportunity in this where such countries can leap frog technologies iterations and be up there with the best of them. In short, though I do see challenges, I see more opportunities.” —Rajnesh Singh, regional director, Asia, for the Internet Society; founder or co-founder of multiple companies; based in Singapore

“Money and transactions have become increasingly digitized in the decade leading up to 2020. Security is an ongoing issue and occasional nightmare. It has, however, become far more sophisticated than anyone imagined ten years ago. While there are some spectacular digital crimes, people are starting to be more wary of the vulnerability of non-digital transactions. People who have not kept up with the pace of change have been left behind and they are more adept at old-fashioned crimes than they are operating in the cyber sphere.” —Charles Perrottet, partner at the Futures Strategy Group; author, speaker, and a leader on the Millennium Project Planning Committee; based in Glastonbury, CT

“If more money is to be made by large companies by persuading people to move away from their cash and credit cards, then it will happen and people’s fears or reluctance will be eased. I’m glad you added the qualifiers ‘in advanced countries’ since otherwise it sounds silly.” —Richard Holeton, director, academic computing services, Stanford University Libraries; co-leader, EDUCAUSE Learning Space Design Constituent Group; author of Cyberspace: Identity, Community, and Knowledge in the Electronic Age; based in Stanford, California

“The rapid introduction of e-money has not been unproblematic and the irresponsible and greedy behaviour of major global financial institutions will undermine the trust and confidence in the international climate of behaviour. This will slow the expected progress towards digital e-money.” —Tapio Varis, professor emeritus at the University of Tampere; principal research associate with UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); based in Helsinki, Finland

“The world is already nearly at scenario one. Actual cash is now seen as less secure than credit/debit due to the possibility of it being stolen. Also, money transfers in developing countries between wage earners in the city and those living in the country must be carried out electronically and systems such as M-PESA are making this a reality and easing the financial burden of many.” —Darlene Thompson, program administrator at N-CAP, a non-profit corporation that encourages the use of ICTs in Canada’s remote north; participant in ICANN secretariat, NARALO; based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

“Two words: legacy infrastructure. Maybe in 2030.” —Fred Stutzman, postdoctoral fellow, Carnegie Mellon University; creator of the software Freedom, Anti-Social, and ClaimID; based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“One: Years of economic malaise will keep our spending low, and hence reduce the number of trusted sources. Those we trust, we really trust, and happily fling bits for goods through the air. Two: Most Americans will buy most goods from far away. Have to use technology for that. Three: Most domestic purchases will be for services. Americans will prefer to avoid the awkwardness of cash given to other people, in favor of digital commerce’s abstraction.” —Bryan Alexander, senior fellow, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), a non-profit organization based in Ripton, Vermont

“In human history, it’s an exciting time for the exchange of money, with electronic transfers being increasingly woven into everyday life. This is not only a developed market phenomenon. Exchanges are taking place from Kenya and India, where the unit of exchange may be in mobile phone minutes, to India and Indonesia, where multiplayer game points could be traded, to the United States and Europe, where loyalty points and gift cards are increasingly used. So, people are ready to adopt. At the same time, an increasing number of consumers are watchful of their privacy and security, as well as being reasonably charged for transactions. Inertia is also a major factor. Consider the decades it took for ATM and debit card transactions to come into widespread use. Yes, there will be early adopters and pioneers with digital wallets. By 2020, it’s unlikely that cash will disappear among the mainstream majority.” —Dan Ness, principal research analyst at MetaFacts, producers of the Technology User Profile, now in its 29th year; based in Encinitas, California

“The younger generations will adopt smart-device swiping as a substitute for money, but generational replacement is a slow process and this will not be nearly complete by 2020. There will be plenty of cash and credit transactions in 2020, although smart-device swiping will be, at that time, an important alternative.” —Cheryl Russell, editorial director for New Strategist Publications and author of the Demo Memo Blog; based in Beaufort, South Carolina

“Security is already a concern with cash (counterfeiting) and credit cards, so that’s not a huge hold up. Adoption will be slower than your prediction, but more because in-store shopping will drop as Internet shopping will continue to grow (so credit cards can rein there).” —Peter Mitchell, chief creative officer at Salter-Mitchell, a company that builds behavior-change programs, relying heavily on inventing digital products; based in Alexandria, Virginia

“We are losing the security war. The government will squeeze tighter and tighter and become more intrusive. There will be a backlash against technology similar to the ‘back to the land’ movement of the 1970s.” —Paul McFate, an online communications specialist based in Provo, Utah

“This will not change as quickly as some might hope. It’s possible to turn money into an information-based abstraction, and we’ve done it at the macro-economic level. But it’s going to be more difficult for people to make that change in the near to medium term.” —Barry Parr, owner and analyst for MediaSavvy; editor and publisher at Coastider.com; based in Montara, California

“While I anticipate major security setbacks along the way, by 2020 most people will be swiping to pay. Why? Two reasons: people value convenience above all (often, to their peril) and they have an intimate and emotional relationship with their smart phone devices. No one truly wants to remember to bring a wallet along with their phone on their way out the door in the morning, and the phone is now the lifeline. In addition, the SmartCity movement, driven by cities eager to reduce friction and costs, and by large banks eager to own all the daily transactions, will advance this push with well-designed systems and ubiquitous marketing. A smart phone that can swipe me into the subway, buy my latte and bagel, and serve as an ID to get me into my building may well be a privacy nightmare, but it’s also a harried urban commuter’s dream.” —Perry Hewitt, director of digital communications and communications services at Harvard University; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Hybrid payment methods will arise. It will be a mix-and-mash-up of all of the above, and systems not yet devised. We may have disruptions in our systems, too.” —Janet D. Cohen, self-employed futurist, writer and Internet specialist; assignments include work for World Future Society publication, World Future Review; based in Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Smart-device software swiping for purchases is alive and well. Right now, in 2011, walk into any Apple store and try really hard to find a place to leave cash. (I think you might be able to in the very far back of the store, but not really sure.)  Not only convenient, there’s likely to become a security reason to use the software. Imagine a world without cash registers, and thieves who no longer bring guns into stores to rob said tills. There’s also the other side—the potential to track everything we buy/do. Scary for me even as I write this to realize that software already has me figured out. Who knew?” —Cyndy Woods-Wilson, high school teacher in Flagstaff, Arizona; adjunct faculty member at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona; content manager for the LinkedIn group ‘Higher Education Teaching & Learning (HETL)

“I am not sure the security on near-field devices is good enough. A few news-carried examples of security failures would slow down adoption of this kind of technology. The under-30 group will likely be early adopters but the older segment will resist through 2020.” —Glenn Omura, associate professor of marketing at Michigan State University, based in East Lansing, Michigan

“I think combining NFC devices into phones is a good idea—fewer things to carry. I think most people under the age of 60 shop online, and most people under 35 do so extensively. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to a retail outlet for clothing, media or electronics (mostly due to the limited selection physical stores have and the discounted prices found online). Seeing as more transactions occur online every year, the trend would indicate that people are becoming more comfortable with this practice. I don’t see cash disappearing entirely, although it would probably save the government a lot of money (pardon the expression) in maintaining currency.” —John Bobosh, digital media strategist, American Institutes of Research, a consulting business, based in Washington, DC

“‘Most’ people will adopt smart-device payments; that means over 50%. There will still be a generation gap so credit cards and even (ugh) checks will be with us for quite some time yet. Cash has already almost disappeared; very few transactions in stores these days are for cash, and very few people I know carry more than just a minimal amount of cash. Nonetheless, cash will never disappear because there will always be a demand for it—for anonymous transactions, illegal transactions, and transactions in far-flung areas where the non-cash technologies haven’t been implemented.” —Robert Ellis, partner, Peterson, Ellis, Fergus & Peer LLP focusing on Internet law since 1989; a co-author of ‘Internet and Online Law’; based in Columbus, Ohio

“Too many factors impact mass adoption of smart devices, unless they offer the same protections and convenience of credit cards and paper money.” —Pat McKenna, president at MojoWeb Productions LLC; teacher of web design, principles of e-marketing, and social media for small businesses at Waukesha County Technical College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“Both answers are right. We cannot foresee what consumers will prefer in ten years. Nobody could have predicted that the iTunes Store would revolutionize the music industry—nobody except Steve Jobs, I suppose. Innovations will come in fits and starts. Some will take hold while others wither. Still others will look promising, but in time will not be accepted by the majority of consumers.” —Ron Smith, bridge coordinator at Helen Bernstein High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District; based in Hollywood, California

“The rate at which this technology is adopted will depend on the policies of the banking industry. If they see it as a source of revenue, then they will encourage it through advertising and by keeping fees low. If they don’t see any advantage to the technology, they will resist its adoption.” —David Salisbury, senior science writer at Vanderbilt University; based in Nashville, Tennessee

“The uptake of mobile payments will depend a lot on the security of personal data by financial institutions and retailers. Although mobile payment methods will be far more advanced in 2020 than they are today, they will not be trusted by most people for every type of transaction. The seemingly regular security breeches reported by government agencies and cyber-attacks by outsiders today will not have abated by 2020, and will give most consumers pause. From a demographic perspective, in 2020, the oldest baby boomers will be 74 and the youngest 56. Census projections put their numbers around 71 million, about 21% of the US population. Although they rely on the Internet for information and entertainment, it will take a lot of persuasion to get this group to use mobile devices rather than money. By contrast, young adults 18 to 34 will make up about 22.5% of the population 2020, at nearly 77 million. They will be less cautious and more open to going without physical wallets.” —Lisa E. Phillips, senior research analyst at eMarketer, Inc., based in New York City

“There are likely to be considerable conversions to credit transactions through mobile devices, despite the likely continuing higher chances for identity theft and fraud. Credit companies are likely to manage the perceptions of relatively safety well if they find that the volume of business through mobile devices increases substantially. If it does not, there will be reduced incentives for businesses to promote mobile device transactions. At the same time, if as current credit card companies do, fraudulent charges are absorbed as a cost of business, as well as reflected in interest rates, if consumers will tolerate higher interest or transaction cost rates, then there will more likely be expansion of mobile-device credit and debit transactions. The fee structures are perhaps the most important future influences on these purchasing behaviors.” —James A. Danowski, professor of communication, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; co-editor of ‘Handbook of Communication and Technology’; program planner for European Intelligence and Security Informatics 2011 and Open-Source Intelligence and Web Mining, 2011

“Your wallet is your phone or smart-device. As Venessa Miemis and others are now detailing, peer-to-peer networks may create mutual credit systems to challenge credit cards.” —Barry Chudakov, principal at Metalife Consulting and a visiting research fellow in the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, University of Toronto; based in Winter Park, Florida

“To the vast majority of people in what you call the advanced countries, cash is a hassle to carry around. We are less concerned with being tracked than with the interest we pay on the balance of our credit cards. Smart devices will take over most of the functions of petty cash. Credit cards will remain in use, perhaps in the form of smart-device apps.” —Charlie Breindahl, lecturer, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, Danish Centre for Design Research, Copenhagen, Denmark

“The major banks are using the smart phone now to scan the backs and fronts of checks for direct depositing to accounts. In many of the ‘third-world’ countries, banking by mobile devices has become standard practice. They are an integral part of the micro-finance projects in these countries and have greatly increased access to money and finance. Standard barcodes of the past are just that—a thing of the past. We can now scan the newer version of the barcode into the computer that allows anyone who does so to get instant coupon discounts off purchases of things. This will continue to be developed in sophistication and security application. With the current adoption of the ‘cloud’ computer technology, security will become less and less of an issue. Trust may not be total but perhaps a ‘trust but verify’ stance as suggested by Ronald Reagan, former US president. More secure methods of verification will be the rule rather than the exception.” —Robert F. Lutes, founder and executive director the non-profit Valley Housing And Economic Development Corporation; its newest project is developing a distance-learning project in Ghana; based in Fresno, California

“These new money relationships will drive the diminution of the need for work to get money. Distribution of the gains of those who do work will cover most of the needs of many, and jobs will be rotating and provide ‘enough’ for many who will use their gains accordingly, as above. Smaller, more efficient, higher quality experiences will be the coin of the realm in these societies.” —Alan Bachers, director of the Neurofeedback Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Northampton, Massachusetts

“Taiwan remains primarily a cash-based society. Great strides have been made, but there is great disparity between the larger cities and the rural areas. Cash hides activities that people want to keep beyond the scrutiny of the government. Chinese societies see great waste and corruption within their government and prefer to be more self-reliant than have the government involved in their welfare needs. Health care is an exception for Taiwanese; they are greatly pleased with this system, as are most expatriates.” —Stephen Hoover, lecturer at Minghsin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan; lives in Chunan, Taiwan, and works in Hsinchu, Taiwan

“People, especially the young, will embrace smart-device swiping. This is no less secure than today’s credit card transactions and can probably be made more secure.” —Nickolas T. Fasciano, founder and principal, InfoTech Solutions LLC; previously worked with IBM; based in Atlanta, Georgia

“Money is already a mostly electronic construct, and as banks charge more and more for their transaction management functions we will invent the search for cheaper ways to conduct business. This will spur the development of many different money-exchanging means like NFC payments. The cost of printing paper currency is also rising which will spur legislation to reduce the use of paper money.” —Stephen Masiclat, associate professor of communications, Syracuse University; based in Syracuse, New York

“As the news of identity theft, hackers, major political, economic, military, and educational electronic sites being electronically attacked proliferate, people will remain wary of abandoning money and credit cards—even though credit card-based Internet transactions are becoming increasingly vulnerable as well.” —Simon Gottschalk, professor in the department of sociology at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas

“I am guessing that security for the smart-swipe-devices will become sufficient.” —Richard N. Zare, professor in the department of chemistry at Stanford University; based in Stanford, California

“There already are simple devices that replace cash and credit cards—they are debit cards (prepaid and tied to an account) and online banking! (Debit cards, however do have a number of under-appreciated risks compared to credit cards.) More complex smart card/wallet approaches have been around and tried off and on for a long time, but haven’t caught on for a number of reasons, including cost. Also, unless substantial changes are made to regulations and contracts, I don’t see wide adoption of ‘near field communications,’ if that means things like mobile phones. That isn’t to say that these aren’t very useful as mobile catalogues, for price comparisons, and as deal finders, etc. But, their utility depends on letting a lot of apps and companies share a large amount of information about a person—more than just location. The chance for identity theft, outright theft of the phone, etc., are high.” —Heywood Sloane, principal at CogniPower, a consulting business; based in Wayne, Pennsylvania

“I expect this transition to happen even more quickly that by 2020. These systems are already the norm in other countries such as Japan. For one thing merchants will want such systems so that transactions are fast and money is transferred quickly. Corporations will push this scenario. On the dark side, consolidation of data creates more risk for sabotage and when a system goes down commerce will halt.” —Suzanne England, professor of social work, New York University, New York City

“The advent of a new technology does not mean the doom of all pre-existing technologies: even with the Internet, we still have newspapers, TV, and radio. New developments have surely had an effect, but they do not mean extinction. To be sure, the use of electronic money will only increase. But there will still be many uses for good old-fashioned cash, checks, and so on for a long time.” —Martin D. Owens Jr., attorney specializing in the law of internet, interactive gaming, and related issues; co-author of Internet Gaming Law; associate editor for Gaming Law Review and Economics magazine; based in Sacramento, California

“A number of caveats here: this only applies to the developed world, the emerging world where a significant portion of the population is unbanked, is already very much embracing mobile money. Having said that, even in developed markets there is a large unbanked population, and this may drive mobile money take-up. The reasons for slow take up in the developed market is, I suspect, going to have less to do with technology and privacy and more about breaking a deeply seated credit card habit that is generations old. People seem to be lukewarm at best about NFC technology at the moment, but my hunch is that will change.” —Vanessa Clark, marketing director for Mobiflock and Twokats Communications and freelance journalist; Cape Town, South Africa

“This was not a clear choice for me but I went with the second choice because I do not think that the shift will happen by 2020—it’s just too soon. The financial lobby is too strong and institutions like Bank of America just will not let go of finding more ways to charge fees for using your own money—once it is in their bank it is no longer yours. So there’s the financial lobbies that will put the brakes on any significant shift to a system as described here, but there is also a lot to be said for the way people do not trust institutions to guard their data, as well as a total lack of trust about how their purchasing history and habits are used to market to them. Things will not have changed much with regards to how we pay for things by 2020. 2050—maybe.” —Greg Wilson, a marketing and public relations consultant who provides organizational change management and service/execution process development services; based in Los Angeles, California

“At some point, each person will have an individual IPv6 address similar to their individual social security number. When that point is reached, the conversion to smart-device swapping will be complete. Before that point is reached, people’s growing apparent indifference to issues of privacy will allow major corporations to pursue the co-joined smart device and credit card worlds. With one other caveat: it will be a matter of determining co-ownership as well, because ultimately the decision will be determined by that simple and over-used but nevertheless true admonition—show me the money.” —Michael Castengera, senior lecturer at the Grady College of Journalism, 26 University of Georgia, and president at Media Strategies and Tactics, Inc.; based in Athens, Georgia

“Cash is mostly a thing of the past. People are completing more and more transactions on smart phones. They are looking for ways to consolidate the things that they need to carry and keep track of. Being able to purchase something anytime, anywhere is the next evolutionary step after internet shopping. Security is a challenge with any monetary form.” —Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

“I am definitely split 50-50 on this, but, according to the global implementation and take up of micropayments/mobile transactions, the second option will sadly be the dominant response in the Western world. There will be a big push to implement digital transactions and there will be a significant number of users of the services. The second option will have grown from its current early beginnings (e.g. Safaricom in Kenya) in the ‘developing nations’ and the movements of micropayments will have stimulated the economy in ways that even their governments may not have planned for. The implications for the inertia of moving from old ways of doing things in western economies will be a distinct disadvantage for the national economies. I am not convinced that broadband over mobile (LTE) will be implemented sufficiently to allow for the speed of transactions never mind the quality of service required for using mobile devices for secure transactions.” —Jane Vincent, visiting faculty fellow, University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre; expert on emotions in social practices of ICT users; also an expert in mobile communications industry since 1984; based in Surrey, UK

“A middle road is more likely. The main issue in using mobiles for electronic cash is the way US cell service is provisioned and the cartel that controls transactions at the merchant level. These are two massive structural constraints, alongside banking regulations, on any adoption of using mobiles to make purchases. With billions in fees on the line banks will not willing give up the control they have in this area. I think such systems will become more common and with any luck alternative payment schemes and services will arise that will break the back of the credit/debit point-of-purchase cartel. Still, I think we are a long way from the demise of cash as a way to purchase items and pay for services. This is especially true in the United States where fear of the government has always been part of our political culture.” —Ted M. Coopman, lecturer, department of communication studies, San Jose State University; member of the executive committee, Association of Internet Researchers; lives in Santa Cruz, California, and works in San Jose

“2020 is way too early for the general population to adopt this technology. The average American is just now starting to feel comfortable shopping online. At least three different times I’ve been notified that my data may have been compromised (from major retailers) and this was not even through online purchasing. Young people may more quickly adopt these technologies but most people will not be doing so anytime soon. When it comes to money the system has to prove itself to be much more secure. Not only that, there always seems to be too much difficulty in adopting a single format for use—e.g. DVD, cell phone technology, etc—for there to be a consistent standard by 2020. This will slow down our moving to a cashless society. Another thing that comes to mind is that the actual cost of doing this must be beneficial in some tangible way. If banks behave as they traditionally have, by charging exorbitant fees for using this technology, it will be even slower to happen.” —Lucretia Walker-Skinner, quality improvement associate with Project Hospitality, a non-profit organization based in Staten Island, New York

“I don’t think cash will ever disappear. Even when checks and credit cards were created, cash still existed. I think that some people will want to maintain a stronger control over what they spend, and that’s very hard to do when using technology. Quite a few people are worried about privacy and hackers, and they work hard to ‘stay off the grid’ by only using cash.” —Erica Johnson, assistant lecturer at the Universite Paris-Est Creteil; based in Creteil, France

“Smart-devices have multiple functions that will be enhanced with features that eliminate the use of cash and credit/debit cards. While these changes will be first in developed countries, adoption of these technologies in developing/emerging countries will not take much time.” —Daniel Ferrari, system analyst

“In 2020 we won’t be using money in the way we do in 2011. Online bill paying, the use of smart-devices to swipe and pay will become the norm. Most Americans use credit or debit cards to pay bills at retailers, restaurants, and in other venues. There is little difference in 2020 by using your smart device that is directly tied to your funds. The plus is a centralized resource of funds while the negative is the need for someone, hopefully the consumer, to keep track of the activity. We can’t really express concern about loss of privacy since most of our activity in 2011 is already tracked and readily available for analysis.” —Stephen Schur, director of online communication at Ramapo College of New Jersey; co-founder of the New Jersey Higher Education Webmaster group; lives in Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania, and works in Mahwah, New Jersey

“The two biggest barriers to wider adaptation of electronic wallets will be concern for security and concern for privacy about transactions.” —Mike Newton-Ward, social marketing consultant for the North Carolina Division of Public Health; based in Raleigh, North Carolina

“Convenience will absolutely trump concerns about privacy. Cash is already disappearing from the wallets of young people and those who see the benefits of online banking for tracking their expenses or the use of credit for earning rewards.” —Dana Allen-Greil, chief of digital outreach and engagement, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

“We just need one big security break in the use of NFCs to give us all pause about using smart phones for paying for purchases, but by then it will be too late. We’ve already seen breaches in security with online transactions, electronic medical records, etc., and we haven’t put the brakes on those things. I’m starting to feel like our illusion of privacy is just that—an illusion. We gave it up a long time ago.” —Lee Hurd, senior user-experience designer for the State of California; based in Sacramento, California

“Two words: Google Wallet. Once that omnipotent company (whose Android phones are overtaking Apple’s iPhone) makes it easy to pay for things with the swipe or bump of your phone wallets will become even more redundant. Safety is clearly of the utmost concern so that will probably remain the largest deterrent to this concept; but as more of us leave the house, we’re finding we look more for our phones rather than our wallets, as we run out the door.” —Sabeen H. Ahmad, new media director, Brodie Collins Consulting; co-editor, Divanee.com, a consulting business based in Washington, DC

“Smart-device swiping should become prevalent. The provision that needs to be made is the ability to make anonymous and untraceable transactions that resemble the anonymity afforded by cash. The other feature that will need to develop is personal auditing of your spending/consuming habits—perhaps aided by software that can track and observe trends. This needs to be personal as the data is too sensitive. Public fear of manipulation and extreme marketing would require that this data be collected individually rather than stewarded by a corporation or government organisation.” —Cyprien Lomas, director at The Learning Centre for Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia; on the advisory council for the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Seven Things You Should Know; based in Vancouver, Canada

“No doubt in my mind that smart-device swiping is the way of the future. Look at the adoption rate of credit cards and debit cards. More recently look at the adoption rate of ecommerce. I recall my first online purchase. I did all the work online, made the selection, got to the checkout and—where is the number for customer service, I’m not giving this machine my credit card number. Within a year I was buying things left and right on the Web, as was everyone else. People saw the benefits, they got comfortable with the security, and off e-commerce went. The same pattern will occur with mobile swipe-devices.” —John T. O’Farrell Jr., vice president for interactive marketing at Pershing LLC, a subsidiary of the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation; based in Jersey City, New Jersey

“Uptake of credit cards has been immense. In New Zealand the use of cash is already a tiny fraction of what it was. But 2020 looks to me to be too soon to predict wholesale change to widely-distributed consumer products now in use. Why was God able to make the world in six days? No installed base.” —Donald Neal, senior research programmer at the University of Waikato, based in Hamilton, New Zealand

“Considering the rapid adoption of sweeping mobile technologies, it is very clear to me that consumers will welcome smart-device swiping for purchases with enthusiasm. Virtually everyone carries their device everywhere, and the convenience of being able to pay with it will overwhelm any concerns they may have. The biggest risk to this scenario happening is the financial system being too conservative about it, but there is so much money to be made that someone with the necessary resources will step in to make it happen. I look forward to the day when smart devices ubiquitously serve as the second factor for two-factor authentication.” —Mark J. Franklin, director of computing services and software engineer, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

“We are on trend towards a paperless money exchange even now. In my work, very few people actually use cash to purchase anything anymore. Most transactions are plastic or virtual. If we had a smart device for making purchases and did not have to worry about Internet number thievery, I believe we could completely transition to a paperless money system.” —Nancy Brown, author and media manager for The American Chesterton Society; based in Chicago, Illinois

“In Norway, this is the present, not the future.” —Anders Fagerjord, professor of media and communication, the University of Oslo; based in Oslo, Norway

“Credit cards with RFID tags haven’t really caught on in a big way, have they? With greater integration of NFC technology into our smart phones and other devices, the trust issues for these technologies are likely to wane, though. The convenience will trump the security risks, like it has with credit and debit cards, and cards are likely to be nearly extinct by 2020. Cash may take a bit longer.” —Phillip Herndon, communications strategist for New Media Strategies, a consulting business based in Arlington, Virginia

“Payment through using smart devices is already a reality in some parts of the world. In the United States, however, this approach has been slow to take hold. Concerns about what information financial companies have about their customers won’t be a factor any more than it held people back from adopting credit cards. A small segment of the population will be concerned about what other entities might do with the data stored in these devices—for these individuals, worries about black-hat hackers stealing financial data or stalking users will prevent uptake. But for the vast majority of Americans, it will simply be a question of convenience and cost. If consumers see the technology as allowing them to achieve the same outcome (buying stuff) with less hassle (no more over-stuffed wallets) and no (perceived) added expense, then the technology will succeed.” —R. Kelly Garrett, assistant professor at The Ohio State University School of Communication; based in Columbus, Ohio

“Options to use cash will disappear as people carry more cards and no change or cash. Credit cards will still exist because many will still purchase now to pay later.” —Caroline Haythornthwaite, director and professor at the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies of the University of British Columbia, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“To a generation raised with smart phones, a wallet full of plastic cards—and, for that matter, a wallet—is already looking clunky.” —Walter Dickie, executive vice president and managing partner, C+R Research; based in Chicago, Illinois

“There will be increasing concerns over privacy, but the convenience of e-cash is going to far outweigh the concerns. It is likely that privacy will be breached, and that some people will be unable to manage their accounts without having the cash to look at, so there will likely be an increase in defaults as well.” —Matt Minahan, consultant in organization design and development; adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and American University; previously a senior management consultant with The World Bank; based in Silver Spring, Maryland

“Cash is disappearing—even purchases of fast food are increasingly done with debit or credit cards. We are not long from the day when cash purchases will be the exception. It is possible that devices could substitute for cards by 2020. Given that purchase behavior is already tracked through credit cards, I doubt privacy issues will be much of a concern. Rather, I expect that privacy advocates will concentrate on maintaining a cash option for purchases, against pressure to eliminate it.  People who don’t possess credit cards or smart phones will become increasingly isolated from the mainstream economy. There is a risk of creating a permanent underclass.” —Lawrence Kestenbaum, Washtenaw County Clerk and Register of Deeds and founder and owner of PoliticalGraveyard.com, a database of U.S. political history from the 1700s to the present; a pioneer in making historical data available online; based in Ann Arbor, Michigan

“People will implant the chip that makes the transaction into a increasingly broad range of places, including the body for some, it will be appealing as thieves will not know where the chips are always and they will be not singular but one of many, which the user will be able to switch on or off, one in a car wing mirror for instance for car park and drive thru payments. On a mobile phone, in a sleeve of a coat, inside a watch, ring or bracelet people will develop their own favourite ways or choices according to lifestyle and job. The public will completely transfer to this system of payment without much fuss over a period of five years; it offers too much ease of use compared to cards which have been accepted en mass now for sometime for the same reasons—ease of use compared to cash.” —David Corrie, Web designer and developer based in London, UK

“Smart devices will make cash and credit cards unusual by 2020—but not because end-users will be clamoring for them. Instead, technology developers will push hard to convince both business and consumer audiences that NFC devices and the like are the wave of the future, not to be missed. For their part, financial institutions will embrace new payment methods, as they find new ways to charge for these products and new ways to save money handling transactions. Neither security nor privacy issues will do much to hold back progress in this sector. Vendors and banks will give all the usual assurances. Early adopters will take these assurances with a grain of salt, knowing that many current transactional platforms, like bank websites and ATMs, are never entirely secure (not least because social engineering has overtaken malware as a primary risk factor). Later adopters may read or hear about the risks in these new technologies. However, members of this group are protected by their lack of awareness and inability to understand exactly what the risk-benefit ratios are. Most will welcome whatever convenience the new devices offer, understanding there’s always a price to pay for convenience. A decade ago, e-commerce had a lot to prove in terms of security and reliability; nowadays typing a credit card number into a website is like using it at the checkout counter. Progress continues. As for privacy, this strikes me as the least of the industry’s worries. Privacy to the mainstream is either a mystery, a nuisance or a chit to be traded for some benefit. Even among well-educated, sophisticated adults, privacy in the digital realm is a distant abstraction. Most consumers will understand the benefits to them of something they can see and hold, before they will understand the risks associated with cookies and other intrusive technologies.” —David Ellis, director of communication studies, York University, Toronto, and author of the first Canadian book on the roots of the Internet; his blog is titled Life on the Broadband Internet; based in Toronto, Canada

“I look forward to the day when my favorite fast food restaurant allows me to drive up, place my order and pay for it using my in-car app. No more yelling out the window at a menu or fumbling for the correct change. By 2020, paying for something with paper or plastic will seem quaint.” —Bryan Trogdon, entrepreneur, user-experience professional, Semantic Web evangelist; work encompasses information and interaction design for rich Internet applications, immersive web sites, and other digital interfaces (e.g., mobile.); based in Omaha, Nebraska

“Trustworthy or not, digital money shall continue its cold and calculated drive to dominance over daily financial transactions. Individual choice between cash and plastic, between plastic and digital electronic devices, between hard money and every conceivable form of distended electronic accounting procedures shall be severely restricted by 2020. Get in and survive, or get out and starve. Many concerned citizens will never come to trust the digital monetary system, but will be unable to function in mainline society without participating in the convoluted financial web, and shall sink ever and ever deeper into its labyrinth. Surcharges, transactions fees, taxes, and value added deductions, each taken from individual and family accounts without full explanation and with little recourse for successful dispute and recovery, shall continue to drain personal wealth from the wage earner into a transnational corporate behemoth and its cagy stockholders.” —Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles, owner and managing editor of corndancer.com, committed to the non-commercial roots of the Internet and World Wide Web; based in rural Washington County, Arkansas

“2020 is only nine years away. In the United States and many other regions of the world, the elderly will become a large proportion of the population. The older citizens may be less likely to adopt the cashless, cardless world. And security will have to keep up. It is too easy for sites to be hacked.” —Wendy Weiss, self employed, developing financial planning website for women aged 45-70; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Ease of use, ubiquitous use, lack of privacy concerns, the disconnect between money and value, and the financial benefits to industry in tracking purchase behaviors will all contribute to the adoption of newer forms of monetary exchange.” —Anita Salem, human systems researcher at the Naval Postgraduate School; consultant with SalemSystems; based in Santa Cruz, California

“The fact that smart phone-based payment systems are common in other parts of the world, combined with the growing ubiquity of these devices, means that this shift will be inevitable in the United States.” —Robert Renaud, vice president for library and information services and CIO at Dickinson College; member, EDUCAUSE Advanced Core Technologies Initiative Design Group; based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

“There’s trust and then there’s convenience. The idea of digital cash will win out based on convenience, just as we now carry credit/debit cards rather than cash.” —Liza Potts, assistant professor of digital humanities, Michigan State University; a leader of ACM’s SIGDOC; formerly worked as a user-interface program manager for Microsoft in the early 2000s building early web apps for them; based in East Lansing, Michigan

“Whether it’s justifiable or not, the pervasive social consciousness of cyber crime and transgressive hacking have and will continue to have serious traction. Thus, people have a strong, quasi-nostalgic attachment to the technologies of currency that date the always questionable new monetary media technologies.” —Kevin Gotkin, PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

“The issues presented are not ‘either-or’; they are complex and nuanced. The answers, if there are any, are to be investigated and pursued in understandings and respect for that complexity, nuance, and diversity, which is what actually is emerging in our increasingly networked world, its cultures, its many complementary and inter-dynamic economies, and individual lives and livelihoods. The 2009 Nobel prize in economics was awarded for the first time to a woman, Elinor Ostrom, for her work on understandings of organizational, governance and economic models for ‘common pool assets’ (the commons). This approach and understandings is yet to be integrated beyond wetlands, forests, and climate, to our ‘information environment’ and its networked, local-global ecological economy.” —Richard Lowenberg, director, broadband planner 1st-Mile Institute; network activist since early 1970s; prepared State of New Mexico’s ‘Integrated Strategic Broadband Initiative’; integrates rural community planning with network initiatives globally; based in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“I see ‘credit cards’ as already virtualized, electronic currency. The form factor and functionality of the card doesn’t really matter: I’m already making an electronic transaction and I expect all the affordances of such. I don’t see my privacy at fundamentally greater risk with near-field devices, and I am impatient with transactions that require cash. At the end of the day, however, it comes down to economics and a shift from one format to another will be heavily influenced by transaction costs.” —Peter Pinch, director of technology for WGBH, a public media company—including television, radio, and online programming; based in Boston, Massachusetts

“Money’s personalized value concern will not diminish for a long time to come. Money’s enabling strength to be able be to transact with others is a big power and would remain to be so.” —G.C. Gupta, professor of cognition and psychology at the University of Delhi; based in Delhi, India

“Unless something fairly drastic happens, the ease and convenience of smart-devices will entice a large percentage of people to move in that direction. Many people will consider that many of the security risks are not so different than using credit cards on the internet, or even, in fact, brick and mortar vendors, in many cases. Some people just don’t think about security altogether. And, many will decide that the trade-off is worth it, but will take measures to protect their devices and accounts. But, I think that this will affect credit cards more than cash. People with access to credit cards are far more likely to be able to afford the phones (and related services) needed to transact business this way, than people who don’t have these cards or who need to live on a cash basis to keep themselves out of trouble.” —Kayza Zajac, chief information officer at the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island; based in Brooklyn NY

“In only eight years we will still be a bit before the inevitable ‘tipping point’ between these two scenarios.” —Jim Hokom, Web manager, Crossroads Urban Center, a non-profit organization; based in Salt Lake City, Utah

“Money will be solely electronic, moving beyond smart devices and perhaps based upon retinal scans or other forms of individual recognition.” —Jesse Drew, associate professor of technocultural studies, at the University of California-Davis; based in Davis, California

“Most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases they make. In the world exposition held in Shanghai, China, last year, tourists already used smart phones to pay for their purchases in the Expo garden; it is quite convenient and well accepted. But still we need to focus on how to guard customers’ money by using cell phones—what if the cell phone is stolen? In the Expo garden, we didn’t need to type in a PIN number or provide our signature, we just pressed the phone against the machine.” —Anqi Lu, a respondent based in Valparaiso, Indiana, who preferred not to share additional personal information

“Money has already become abstract to the point where people don’t understand it anymore. This is what led the last financial crisis. Let’s just hope with this swipe and buy, will also incorporate swipe and save.” —Tiffany Shlain, director and producer of the film ‘Connected’ and founder of The Webby Awards; Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute; based in San Francisco, California

“Barring a major event that undermines the trust in the ‘Electronic Wallet,’ it will gain support exponentially. There will always be holdouts to any technology, but the majority will use electronic means to pay for goods and services. All the forward momentum could be taken from this advance with a major cyber attack, and this is the only issue keeping expansion at bay.” —Keith Davis, team lead for the S6 Community of Purpose – working on a knowledge management initiative for the Signal Center of Excellence – RLM Communications – Military Communications Expert Organization, US Army; based in Grovetown, Georgia

“By 2020, most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases because of the convenience and security the smart device provides. However, the traditional banks and credit card companies will continue to play an important role in providing a safe store of value in the form of insured bank accounts and as sources of consumer credit. For many consumers, the smart device will remove the need to card a physical debit or credit card, but will not dramatically change the business relationships between consumers and financial institutions. There will be incremental erosion of the traditional financial relationships for smaller, discretionary purchases because consumers will be willing to use alternative payments in return for discounts and loyalty rewards.” —Nancy Callahan, senior director, mobility, for a SAAS enterprise solutions provider; 25 years experience in business management, product development, risk management of information services; certified information privacy professional; based in New York City

“People will not trust the use of near-field communications devices, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be mass adoption of mobile money. Instead, there will be a boom in security and backup options designed to allay people’s fears, as governments slowly phase cash out. 2020 might be a bit too soon, given the backlash we’ve seen to elimination of even a single coin—the penny. But this has as much to do with sentiment and collectability as it does with everyday uses of cash. The distinction between credit cards and mobile payment options is negligible. If major credit card companies adopted this technology and provided convincing incentives to make the switch, it could happen quite fast.” —Jessica Clark, media strategist, for the Association of Independents in Radio; senior fellow, Center for Social Media, American University; media policy fellow, New America Foundation; based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“It is likely that both scenarios can play a role in the future. Credit cards as an artifact are a product of their era and the infrastructure that has been widely adopted by credit companies, who are very likely in future to want to shift the cost of that infrastructure to the consumer by using a platform that is multi-purpose and purchased for other reasons. However, the tipping point will only arrive with fairly significant breakthroughs in security and privacy—it will only take one or two major international scandals/failures for much of the promise to dissolve.” —Duane Degler, principal consultant, Design for Context; designer of large-scale search facilities and interactive applications for clients such as the National Archives, the Social Security Administration, and Verisign; based in Washington, DC

“This question has several shades of grey. Checks are still accepted as a form of currency—yet to be completely phased out. One issue is that older populations and others have strong buying power. The trust issue is an interesting one. As more security breeches are reported and identity theft increases, more folks will not ‘trust’ smart-device swipe and go options. So, there will continue to be a focus on both other and newer transaction forms. Square is a great example of a system that disrupts how transactions can occur. Why use expensive equipment from credit card companies who then take a percentage of your sale? Instead, use a simple device (smartphone) and have a system that takes a smaller percentage. Very smart and a strong glimpse into the future. Same with Google Wallet.” —Lilyn H. Hester, media relations, PR, and social media for Capstrat Inc., a strategic communications firm in Raleigh, North Carolina; based in Cedar Grove, North Carolina

“Handheld devices are becoming the norm for most people. Even those who have traditionally been late adopters appear to be gravitating toward ‘intelligent’ devices as they observe the practical benefits enjoyed by those around them who use these devises. However, the older generations who are slow to adopt and have physical difficulties with these devices will continue to lag, and that will have a definite impact on the potential for cash and credit cards to ‘disappear.’” —J. Clarke Price, president and CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs; based in Dublin, Ohio

“In 2010 there was $88 billion in mobile commerce in Europe. James Rosenberg, World Bank social media director, can tell you how mobile commerce has transformed third-world economies. He says resistance to broadband adoption is unique to North America. The third world embraces the obvious potential.” —Frank Odasz, president Lone Eagle Consulting, a company specializing in Internet training for rural, remote, and indigenous learners; speaker on rural 21st century workforce readiness, rural e-commerce and telework strategies, and online learning for all; based near Dillon, Montana

“This trend is already overwhelmingly clear in many parts of the world—virtually all purchases will be made by handhelds and it probably won’t take ten years to get there.” —David A.H. Brown, executive director, Brown Governance Inc., a consulting business based in Toronto, Canada

“Just a guess, but small mobile transactions (buying gas, metro transit, vending machines) will utilize these new methods, but credit cards will still be widely used for most transactions.” —Tim Olson, vice president for digital media and education at KQED, a public media company – including television, radio, and online programming – based in San Francisco, California

“Given the age of the American population, I don’t see smart-device swiping replacing cash and cards anytime soon. For one thing, they are less likely to adopt the technology quickly. For another, they are old enough to understand the potential threat of stolen identities and can extrapolate that to the greater danger of stolen ‘money’ through lost, stolen, or corrupted devices. Since this is the Pew Internet and American Life Project, I answered assuming it was based on my expectation for the United States.” —Rebecca Leet, principal, Rebecca Leet & Associates, a consulting business based in Washington, DC

“I took the ‘positive’ choice, but I believe it somewhat overstates the case. Much of the world runs on what used to be called ‘plastic’ (credit cards), but cash hasn’t disappeared entirely. Credit ‘cards’ have just become a number now, and numbers can be in any device. But it’s going to be a while yet until everything is networked so extensively and cheaply that physical cash is unnecessary. I do think it will happen eventually. It’s pretty rare these days to barter with eggs and chickens.” —Seth Finkelstein, professional programmer and consultant; 2001 winner of a Pioneer of the Electronic Frontier Award from Electronic Frontier Foundation for groundbreaking work in analyzing content-blocking software; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“I am really split on this one, because it is easy to envision a near-future cashless society in terms of utility, but difficult to dismiss the complex political and cultural forces that may delay or limit such an evolution.” —Mark Callahan, artistic director for Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE) at The University of Georgia; based in Athens, Georgia

“NFC may in fact be heading for mass adoption as more and more devices incorporate the technology, but so was Google+ and iTunes Ping. Having a large ‘install base’ does not always equate to having a lot of active users. Even cohorts that we typically think of as bleeding edge and digitally savvy have very real concerns around privacy and control of their data, especially when that data is their money. Many will adopt NFC, but it will take some time to be used by a majority of people.” —Matt Gallivan, research lead at one of the largest consulting companies in the US; formerly in charge of research and audience insight at National Public Radio; based in New York

“For this scenario to be true, I think payment costs will have to be much lower. Credit card fees for making a payment are much too high to replace cash for buying inexpensive items at the market or loaning a few dollars to a friend. This is partly because this money is based on credit instead of money that’s in the bank—money that doesn’t yet exist, versus money that’s on hand. If someone can build a secure-enough, trusted-enough system to exchange on-hand money that avoids the credit card system—a banking system and not a credit-based system—it could see the widescale adoption suggested here.” —Nathan Swartzendruber, technology education at SWON Libraries Consortium; based in Cincinnati, OH. USA

“Eight years is not nearly long enough for most people to abandon cash and adopt a platform as immature as NFC. I believe that the first scenario described (‘By 2020, most people will have embraced…’) is more likely to come to pass by 2050. Cash is a fundamental part of our society and eliminating it to the degree that this survey question proposes will take a long time.” —Eric Geller, social media director for TheForce.Net, a fan-run Star Wars website based in Washington, DC

“I would like to see a shift to smart-phone swiping, but I would also like to see Visa and Mastercard lose their oligopolistic grip too, and that may not happen.” —Cynthia Meyers, associate professor at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Bronx, New York

“Advances in mobile technologies will prove to be the most secure method for financial transactions and will replace the use of cash and credit cards by 2020. While smart devices will be accepted and adopted by the majority of the population, there will of course be those change-averse individuals that will continue to resist the adoption of these new technologies and approaches.” —Jack Spain, principal at Spain Business Advisors; based in Cary, North Carolina

“Given that cash has largely disappeared in advanced countries (I made a trip to Canada last month and never had to change any money), it seems most likely that some places will embrace the digital wallet. Still, this will likely increase the divide between first- and third-world countries, which still rely almost entirely on cash. In countries where the citizens don’t trust their banks, digital money will be a tough sell.” —Regina McCombs, faculty lead for multimedia and mobile news coverage at The Poynter Institute, a teaching, consulting non-profit organization based in Saint Petersburg, Florida

“I agree that by 2020 most people will have adopted smart-device swiping, but I disagree that it will be through mobile phones. NFC may be a player in this market, but NFC will possibilities with data exchanges—something that is much more probable using a mobile device, given the amount of mobile data that they could possibly hold, and the power of the devices themselves. For payments though there is a much more obvious candidate for smart-payments—credit and debit cards themselves. It is much more likely that those companies whose business it is to manage credit and transactions will ensure that they are the ones who start to enable contact-less transacting. They have a vested interest in ensuring that their technologies continue, and global infrastructures already in place to deal with this. It will be far easier for them to upgrade existing facilities, and to issue existing customers with new cards, that it will be for the fragmented mobile network operators to try to recreate such an infrastructure from scratch. NFC offers much more exciting possibilities than mere monetary exchanges. You could walk past a cinema, and it could automatically transfer a schedule of what’s showing with a swipe, complete with trailers. You could download the menu in a restaurant, complete with multiple pictures, ingredient lists and even the recipe. Visit a theme park or zoo, and a map and audio guide could be transferred directly to your phone. NFC has the potential to be much, much bigger than mere purchases.” —Rich Osborne, senior IT innovator at the University of Exeter, based in Exeter, UK

“This is assuming that people have any money to spend on anything by 2020.” —Kelly Richmond, self-described ‘occasional dilettante, sometime educator’; worked in marketing at America Online from 1992-1998 marketing at America Online; based in Washington, DC

“Just as the use of ID cards has increased or been mandated, e.g. at airports due to security concerns, so too will the need to employ trackable purchasing technologies. While people are concerned about having their purchasing patterns divulged, the incentives for paying electronically will increase as will the value to consumers of being able to track and budget purchases.” —Stephen Murphy, senior vice president for business development and digital strategy at IQ Solutions; based in Rockville, Maryland

“Much of the world is already ahead of the United States in the use of smart phones and mobile e-commerce. Convenience will outweigh the fears; this technology is already being adopted at a rapid pace. Fraud and theft have always been, and will always be, present to some degree, but avoiding new technology due to these fears is unfounded and short-sighted.” —Susan Price, CEO and chief Web strategist at Firecat Studio LLC; TEDxSanAntonio organizer; Austin FreeNet cofounder; Knowbility board member; based in San Antonio, Texas

“Within the next eight years? Only 35% of all adults own a smart phone currently. I’m not sure what the project increase in smart phone ownership is over the next eight years, but I’m sure that large enough proportion of people are always going to want to either: a) not own a cell phone altogether or b) not know how to use these types of functions/utilities to convince vendors and retailers to maintain ‘archaic’ credit machines. I mean, don’t they still take checks? —Jeniece Lusk, assistant research director with a PhD in applied sociology at an Atlanta, Georgia, information technology company

“Not sure that this will occur by 2020, but this is the trend and I see the adoption rate becoming exponential as people transition over to smart phones. I have found it much easier to use my phone for transactions at Starbucks and at the airport. The digital boarding pass is great. So much better than having to keep track of a piece of paper.” —Katrina Griffin, e-marketing strategist for Medseek; based in Peoria, Illinois

“I pay with cash for almost everything, and seem to be about the only one left who does so. That phrase ‘legal tender for all debts public and private’ is for entertainment purposes only—try getting Starbucks to take anything larger than a $20. So many people are already accustomed to buying a cup of coffee with a credit card that smart-device swiping is only a very small next step.” —John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, former director of cyber- strategy and other projects for the Federation of American Scientists; based in Alexandria, Virginia

“We are well on the way. In the sense that credit cards correspond to a line of credit with a banking institution, credit cards will still exist. But, increasingly, they will be virtual; banks may still issue them but people will not carry them. They will be stored in a various accounts in secured Web forms. Many transactions will be repeat transactions with trusted vendors where the vendor stores credit information. In one-off transactions, people will use a swipe application on a smart device managed by a service, perhaps in some future form of present day services like PayPal or Google Checkout.” —John Jackson, an officer with the Houston Police Department and active leader of Police Futurists International; based in Houston, Texas

“Most consumers will probably adapt to the convenience of smart-device transactions, as they have to loyalty programs and other forms of IT-enabled direct marketing relationships. However, a minority will resist the disappearance of traditional payment options. Resistant individuals and groups will likely come from divergent perspectives—tech-savvy open identity advocates, a subset of economic conservatives concerned with the further virtualization and automation of the economy, liberals who oppose the expansion of corporate social control, and social justice activists representing impoverished communities lacking access to mainstream financial institutions. Given their discordant motivations, any arguments posed by these groups will have a difficult time finding popular appeal and will be easily marginalized as simple Luddite complaints. Of course, anyone participating in illegal markets will also be forced to react.” —Nathaniel James, social innovation consultant serving the philanthropic, social enterprise, and non-profit sectors; based in Seattle, Washington

“Although I believe the move to device-based wallets will continue, the underlying question of the value of money will depend on the ability of the global financial systems to restore faith in investment through the abolition of debt. The question of trust is not about the security of the device but in money itself.” —Adrian Schofield, manager, applied research unit, Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering; president, Computer Society South Africa; based in Johannesburg, South Africa

“This will result in a class of people who are unidentified and a gray cash economy that runs parallel to the established electronic economy.” —John Laprise, visiting assistant professor at the Doha, Qatar, campus of Northwestern University

“People are afraid today about everything in their financial life. No one trusts banks, money itself, and especially Congress or government. Everyone has stories about financial fraud, computer hacking of accounts, etc. This means that even good technology will be slow to be trusted by the masses.” —Ed Lyell, professor at Adams State College, consultant for using telecommunications to improve school effectiveness through the creation of 21st-century learning communities; host of a regional public radio show on the economy; based in Alamosa, Colorado

“The first scenario will certainly be coming true in Asia and America. In Europe the ability to protect existing financial institutional arrangements, is likely to slow if not deter adoption of such behavior. In the United States, with the Millennial generation representing more than one out of every three adult Americans, the ability to use technology to make each moment of the day more productive will win over this giant piece of the market, and then ultimately the rest will follow. Since privacy concerns are also not a Millennial generation priority, such concerns will only cause older adults to resist the transition, but when dealing with their children they will fall in line as quickly as mothers learned to text to communicate with their kids.” —Morley Winograd, co-author of Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America; senior fellow, USC’s Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy; based in Arcadia, California

“As a retail merchant, I can say that the use of cash and checks has dropped dramatically over the last ten years. People haven’t seemed to be the least bit reluctant to rely on plastic and technology over cash. My Canadian friends have been astonished to find that Americans continue to use cash at all. According to them, Canadians tend to pay for everything with some form of plastic. Early in this transition, people frequently used technology to pay for smaller purchases—those under $20—in cash, while using plastic for larger purchases. To some extent, that was due to the reluctance of merchants to process low value transactions since their discount rate was, in part, based on their average sale. Higher average dollar value sales resulted in lower discount rates. We now find people routinely presenting plastic for all sales over $1. I think that merchants now realize this, and are much more reluctant to impose a minimum dollar sale for plastic. In my establishment, we never did require minimum purchases for the use of plastic.” —Thomas Massingham, president, Garrison Hill Florists Inc.; based in Dover, New Hampshire

“While we can expect advances in near-field communications usage, people will be conservative with their exposure to this technology. They will not give up their credit cards quickly or easily. Expect bigger near-field uses in lower cost daily transactions like vending machines, coffee stores and perhaps gas stations. There may be more trust of limited exposure solutions, such as pre-paid near-field solutions. Larger transactions may continue to require a card of some kind (however the magnetic strips will be supplanted by some form of chip-based application).” —Steven Swimmer, self-employed consultant; previously worked in digital leadership roles for a major broadcast TV network and a major museum; based in Los Angeles, California

“This one is a hard one because by 2020 people may be on to technology and sick of shortcuts that mean you have to be online all of the time. Payments will be digital for the most part, but there may be backlash.” —Bonnie Bracey Sutton, technology advocate at the PowerofUS Foundation; an international education consultant who has done work for the George Lucas Education Foundation and SITE.org as a volunteer; based in Washington, DC

“I receive feedback from some customers and associates that they still have reservations about using internet payment systems. However, the use of credit cards is fairly ubiquitous and so it would be a small step to move to smart-devices, and once they are introduced the adoption will be swift. I do not see cash and credit cards disappearing in the next eight to nine years as there are parts of the country and segments of the society that will not be able to access, use or be qualified for ‘credit’ types of payment systems.” —Julia Takahashi, editor and publisher at Diisynology.com; based in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“The reality will be somewhere between these two extremes. Some will go cashless. Some will stick with cash. Most will use a hybrid setup. I predict we will see even more people having financial difficulties because of overspending.” —Tom Rule, an educator, technology consultant, and musician who holds down seven different jobs; based in Macon, Georgia

“As someone who got in a huge argument with a friend at the inception of online commerce and lost, I vote for scenario one. Despite my own early adoption of all things digital, I argued with absolute conviction that no one would give out their credit card number online. My friend won the bet, hands down. I rarely even carry cash myself any more, not even when I travel outside the United States (although, admittedly, I only travel to developed countries). So I suspect that we simply won’t have cash: it costs too much. The cost of copper is greater than .01, I believe, and even paper money must be extremely expensive. Someone will, no doubt, do the analysis: possibly transferring bits and bytes is more expensive, due to power costs, than cash, but it probably isn’t. Downsides? Greater risk of fraud, probably.” —Gina Maranto, co-director for ecosystem science and policy and coordinator, graduate program in environmental science and policy at the University of Miami; based in Miami Beach and Coral Gables, Florida

“There will always be people who are concerned with the security of their transactions—so the concern of someone hacking into your financial flows will continue to grow and personal security and device tracking companies will become an integral and major component of the marketplace.” —Laura Lee Dooley, online engagement architect and strategist for the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC

“Money is a concrete as well as conceptual medium of exchange. Convenience of use is all that counts.” —Joseph Balbozar, anonymous ‘real life’ identity, a Second Life (virtual world) resident and photographer/explorer of the virtual world

“In my experience some forms of payment, i.e. the check, are already being phased out and the idea of debit cards is so pervasive that cash will soon become unnecessary and stores often have to put up signs advertising that they are cash only. Many times people already go to restaurants and have no cash on them, paying only with cards. This shift likely will happen but I’m not sure about it happening as early as 2020.” —Dana Levin, student specializing in emergency medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine; based in Philadelphia and New York

“Purchasing that is not done online will not entail physical media, but a digital device with which a purchaser authorizes an exchange of funds. In some situations, purchasers will not need a device, but will log into a financial management (PayPal-like) service to make the purchase. Purchasers will be able to use varying levels of authentication for different magnitudes of purchases.” —Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

“We’ve had smart-device swiping options for purchases in many stores, but they have not seen dramatic uptake. People are too accustomed to paying with real cash and ‘real’ credit cards to try new methods. I don’t think, however, that people will become increasingly suspicious of technology companies learning more about their purchasing habits; people really don’t think critically about these issues (and the proof is in our willingness to add all those little discount cards to our key ring for our grocery store purchases).” —Daren C. Brabham, assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

“The trend to smart-device swiping is obvious, but the fictioneer in me can also imagine a major identity-theft debacle that would push many of us back to plain old cash.” —Karen G. Schneider, director for library services at Holy Names University; prolific author of books and articles on technology; based in Oakland, California

“The deciding factor to this question is security. If we can develop security methods to ensure monetary transactions are safe. People and companies will migrate to this technology. Handling and processing cash and credit cards is expensive. Retail will encourage this approach to help keep their costs lower. However, if we don’t develop strong fail-safe security methods, people will not embrace smart-device swiping.” —Veronica Longenecker, assistant vice president of information technologies, Millersville University, based in Millersville, Pennsylvania

“My family does all of its banking online, even mortgages. What trumped my instinctive fears? Convenience! It was the ability to get cash when I needed it, wherever I was; the ability to spend less time driving around, have greater selection, find the best price, and not have to worry about ‘business hours’; the ability to set up payments now to be delivered at the right time, and not worry about stamps and trips to the post office. I’m guessing the rest of society is just as lazy or busy as I am, since it seems most of them made the transition to digital finance ahead of me. So yes, in the year 2020, I think we will be closer to the ‘smart device’ purchase model than the cash and credit card model. Yes, of course, this means there is a lot of data about me in a lot of computers at a lot of different vendors. Yes, I am concerned, as are many, about the possibility of abuse of this data. However, it appears to me that society is grappling with these issues, and gradually finding good policies and creating good consumer protection mechanisms. I think too that the privacy protection of ‘the crowd’ will become one of the main reasons we are kept safe. My data is mixed up with the data of millions of others. Yes, Amazon can pull my records when I login to its site because I have identified myself through the login and because I have accepted its cookies. But it is using that data to guess what it can sell me most easily, not to trick me into becoming an international spy. Do we, as a society, need to be vigilant about setting limits to access to these records? Yes. We need to seek to balance the safety of the individual and the safety of society. In the United States, we seem to be struggling to find the balance between our desire for the individual pursuit of happiness and our desire for protection from ‘9/11 disasters’, but in financial matters, I’m hoping we compromise on something that leans a bit toward the pursuit of happiness. However, I expect it won’t matter how that sorts out. Convenience will motivate our movement before the legal issues are sorted out. That seems to me to be consistent with the development paths of most other technological innovations.” —Nikki Reynolds, director of instructional technology services, Hamilton College; based in Clinton, New York

“Digital commerce is already here, so the only question is whether it will become the dominant mode.  A lot of transactions are already done digitally, without use of a physical credit card at point of sale (although a credit card number is used). PayPal is incredibly successful now. Today I can show discount coupons on my blackberry at restaurants. We no longer run physical impressions of credit cards. We just scan the magnetic stripe. ‘One’ cards are standard at colleges. Smart phones and similar devices are becoming pervasive. I think we are almost there.” —Tom Franke, chief information officer for the University System of New Hampshire; based in Durham, New Hampshire

“If technology companies can come up with ways to make device swiping easy, I expect it will gain traction quickly. As an analogy, the use of credit and debit cards grew rapidly once it became easy. And, the wide spread use of affinity cards and online shopping suggest that we have already decided to give away our personal purchasing habits.” —Rick Holmgren, chief information officer at Allegheny College; based in Meadville, Pennsylvania

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