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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : April 19, 2012

Pew: 65% of tech experts believe cash, credit cards may be obsolete by 2020

Things move fast in this digital age but are they moving fast enough that mobile wallets could replace cash and credit cards by the end of this decade? The majority of technology experts surveyed by Pew think so.

by Helen Leggatt

pew.jpgBy 2020 cash and credit cards could be a thing of the past, say 65% of technology experts recently surveyed by Pew.

According to those experts, "people will come to trust and rely on personal hardware and software for handling monetary transactions over the Internet and in stores" and that "cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared from many of the transactions that occur in advanced countries".

"We have already witnessed the transition from cash to debit/credit cards," says Microsoft engineer Christian Huitema. "The electronic wallet is not much more than a 'virtual card,' in which near-field wireless communication replaces the reading of a magnetic stripe."

A third of respondents weren't so optimistic. They said they felt near-field communications would not be trusted and there would be no large-scale move towards a totally digital format. Some don't believe that mobile payments will have gained much traction by 2020 and that cash and credit will remain commonplace.

"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," says Robert Ellis at Peterson, Ellis, Fergus & Peer LLP.

According to recent research by, six out of 10 consumers in the UK would avoid using NFC technologies to make mobile payments, with 36% citing security concerns as offputtig. Just 17% of respondents were interested in using NFC technology but even they harbored concerns about the technology working.

Tags: electronic wallet, mobile payments, mobile technology, near-field communication, security, smartphone

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