To hear technology folks tell it, cash isn’t long for our world. Plastic — in the form of credit cards and debit cards — is the go-to payment option for most consumers today. Our mobile phones are threatening to replace our wallets, and recently we’ve seen the arrival of so-called virtual currencies like bitcoin, even if most of us haven’t exactly embraced software-backed money yet.
But for all the talk of an increasingly cashless society, experts doubt hard currency will vanish completely.
“Just as the check did not end the need for cash, debit and credit cards or bitcoins are not going to end the need for currency,” says Jeffery Born, professor of finance at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “The ratio of currency to other forms of money may continue to decline, but it’s hard to imagine the ratio going all the way to zero.”