Shireen Mohyi

Payment Innovation: How Safe Is Digitalizing Cash?

In a world where everything is turning over to the tech-side, it makes sense that the contents of our wallets are making the transition as well. Our credit and debit cards are becoming digitalized; all you need to do is input your card’s information and/or bank routing number into a social payment app of your choice, and there you have it. No more cash in your pockets, so one less thing you need to carry around (except your ID and gift cards, obviously).

Though it could be considered a little on the invasive side, it’s also insanely convenient. When you’re on the run or simply forgot to grab your wallet, you can basically just text your friend on Venmo or swipe your iPhone if you’re eating at an Apple Pay-friendly restaurant. Never before has “Aw man, I forgot my wallet,” been such an easy problem to fix.

I initially rejected the idea of using Venmo. My brother introduced me to the app and raved about how much it came in handy. There was something unsafe to me about inputting my credit card information into an app I barely knew. (I mean, we had just met). If only one person I knew was using it, what made it so great? It was clearly not getting any recognition.

Then it grew, and grew and grew. I’ve heard the phrase “Can I just Venmo you?” far more times than I’ve heard anyone ask to borrow some change. Convenience is key, and having an lifeline of money on your phone for whatever emergency could come up is something we didn’t even know we needed.

The World Economic Forum had been analyzing payment trends in the world, and they picked up two key things, according to a November 2015 article from Forbes: The world is becoming cashless, and new technologies in moving money are underway.

The article went on to say that there are a handful of results that would arise from a cashless buyers market. Not having tangible money can create more spending due to endless perspective on the value of cash. If you never technically had any to begin with, you’ll never run out, right? Having a record of all payments also creates a plethora of data that will be useful sellers by giving them a greater understanding of their consumers wants and needs.

The transferring between accounts has also never been quicker, cutting out any last-minute trips to the bank. The safety and security of transactions will increase because all funds will be visible and traceable, according to Forbes. On one side, we’ll know where every last dollar of ours is going and never lose track. On the other side, providing hackers with more information and way more access.

Last year, Slate came out with a real ass-kicking article on the hacking dangers of Venmo and their lack of app security. Venmo decided to dig itself into a PR-horror show and refused comment multiple times, but that’s a another story. It turns out the app doesn’t notify users of any suspicious activity — like an email or home address change. One user, 30-year-old Chris Grey of New York, woke up to a $2,895 deposit and a changed name on his Venmo account. Once he explained to Chase Bank what happened, their only advice was that he shut down his checking account, of which his Venmo account was attached. It was one of those kind of horror stories you know could happen to anyone, but you just go on with life and hope it won’t happen to you.

When Apple decided to venture into this market, there was something monumental about it. Apple Pay is fairly new but available at a huge list of stores, such as it’s own, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Duane Reade, McDonald’s, Sephora, Petco, Panera Bread, Staples, Nike, Walgreens, Subway, Whole Foods, to name a few. Digital Trends revealed that Coca-Cola machines will be making the transformation, too. Apple Pay is already works on 40,000 Coke machines. There was a deal made earlier between Apple and USA Technologies that says 200,000 vending machines and self-serve terminals will support Apple Pay. Gasoline company Chevron even announced over Twitter that they were in talks with Apple to get Apple Pay at the pump, but had no set dates.

Books are in the form of paper and we would rather hang up a photo on our Instagram page than a wall in our home. It makes sense that tangible cash is turning digital during this revolution, but there’s no sure way to tell how major of a takeover this could eventually become. That’s the thing with technology; it always changes everything when you least expect.


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