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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 47, November 22, 2009, Article 20

NEW YORK TIMES ON THE ADVANCE OF ELECTRONIC CASH

I came across this article in the New York Times on Monday. We've seen many articles like it before, but this shows some of the latest steps towards the ultimate demise of physical currency in favor of electronic trasactions. -Editor

For almost as long as Americans have been hearing about jetpacks and picturephones, they have been hearing that money bills, coins and plastic cards might cease to exist, or at least become a novelty.

Instead of leather wallets, consumers could, sooner than they think, carry virtual wallets, with their credit card and bank information stored on remote computers that are accessible everywhere and anytime. They could use them whenever they want to buy something, whether on the Web, on cellphones or at cash registers.

With a new cellphone application called ShopSavvy, for instance, a shopper can use the phone's camera to scan an item's bar code in a store to see if it is available for less online. If so, the shopper can buy it with one click if they have already entered their credit card and shipping information on PayPal's Web site.

"What we're trying to do and what we think is very important is to displace the use of cash or checks," said Scott Thompson, president of PayPal, which is a leader in digitizing money. "We'll just have one wallet, and it lives in the cloud."

PayPal says its service makes the checkout process more convenient and secure for both shoppers and merchants.

The way consumers pay for things has transformed only a few times. Coins replaced bartering, paper bills mostly replaced coins, and bank drafts and checks developed as an alternative to cash.

In the 1950s, the credit card was introduced, and today, Americans pay for more on plastic than they do in cash. Some airlines and restaurants, for instance, no longer accept cash. The coming evolution to digital money that is handled over the Web is under way, led by companies like PayPal, MasterCard and Visa, as well as start-up companies and retailers. Some methods involve using a cellphone instead of a credit card, while others call for using a single password or code to tap into their credit cards.

"It just keeps getting more and more convenient to get access to your money and to transfer it to someone else," said Lawrence H. White, a professor of economics at George Mason University who specializes in the history of money. "When everyone has a cellphone, why reach into your wallet?"

To read the complete article, see: At Checkout, More Ways to Avoid Cash or Plastic (www.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/technology/start-ups/16wallet.html?
scp=1&sq=at%20checkout%20more%20ways%20to%20avoid%20cash%20or%20plastic)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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