No more cash

These days there seems to be a credit, debit or loyalty card for everything. That's tough for guys who prefer to carry a slim wallet. Admittedly there are guys who don't mind clutching a thick wallet or even some type of purse contraption, but I think we try to keep things simple.  Even for females, it's tough to carry all those cards and keep them organized in a purse.  Add in the smartphone, and there are days when all of us seem to be carrying around everything but the bathroom sink. That's right - "bathroom," because you already have the kitchen sink somewhere in that mess.

Seriously, wouldn't it be nice to have all those cards' information in our smartphones? Recently there have been inroads into transforming that smartphone into an all-inclusive payment device. As of this writing there are a number of start-up companies getting in on the action so that you can pay with your smartphone just about everywhere.

For those of us who wish to slim down our wallets and purses by using our smartphones for transactions and more, that's great news. It's also positive news for financial institutions and merchants who would love to track our spending habits.  

As with every technological advance, there are downsides including privacy issues such as the aforementioned use of tracking and of course, security. But with disadvantages comes opportunity. If one was to enter the workforce today, look no further than getting into the field of cyber-security for a solid career choice.

Even if security becomes air-tight with smartphones being used as payment devices, there is the biggest question: Losing the device either through personal negligence or theft. Obviously this problem can be alleviated when backing up all stored information on an external drive or "on the cloud." Even if all information is backed up, it is a pain to contact all creditors and financial institutions in the event of loss or theft.

As we rely more on smartphones for our way of life, technology is playing an even greater role in the restaurant industry. Tablets have been installed in restaurants where patrons may order food and drinks, pay the bill, play games or read USA Today on the devices that are parked on the tables. Tablet maker Ziosk has contracted with Chili's at its 1,800-plus locations. At the moment, the servers take and deliver the orders, clear the tables and hand guests the checks, but it makes one wonder if those processes will be automated one day by using conveyor belts to perform food deliveries. For food purists, the idea of automating sit-down restaurants must make them shake their heads with disgust, but then again, food purists wouldn't be caught dead or alive in a Chili's. Food purist or not, it would be quite sad to order and receive restaurant food in such an impersonal manner.

With smartphones and restaurant tablets, our world is moving more towards a "cashless society." Will we become financially paperless one day where there will be no paper notes or checks? It depends on market forces, but I'll be nostalgic for cash, certainly not for thick wallets.


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