For example, we’ve gone from in-person banking to telephone banking, online banking via a desktop, and banking apps accessible on every smartphone.

Money no longer functions in the same way it once did. And this should hardly come as a surprise; the current system of using cash to represent currency evolved from the simple barter systems used by clans and tribe members in ancient times. Bartering was, in itself, an evolution of the time-honoured tradition of gift exchange.

So it was only a matter of time before banknotes and coins gave way to something new. Digital transactions were the start, cryptocurrency was the next level, and as we stare into the ever-nearing horizon of Web3, we can no longer avoid the obvious question:

Do we even need cash anymore?

A Cashless Society?

As technology has advanced, many people rely on digital transactions, while the idea of a cashless society is becoming increasingly popular. But is Portugal ready for this significant shift in how we handle money?

The notion of a cashless society is currently trending, with fewer and fewer people carrying physical cash. After all, what is the need? But, of course, money isn’t the only thing that has evolved; we developed chip and pin machines to pay on a card, followed by contactless technology, followed by Apple Pay and other virtual ‘wallets’ that can be stored on your phone.

With the heightened awareness of hygiene and the spread of germs during the pandemic, fewer and fewer people carry physical cash. Indeed, many businesses adopted a ‘contactless’ payment policy during the pandemic that saw many refusing to accept cash payments at all.

Challenges in going cashless

Despite the trending notion of cashless currency, Portugal still faces many challenges that must be addressed before a cashless society becomes a reality. One of the main concerns is the digital divide. While many people have access to smartphones and the internet, some still need the means to access these technologies.

Another concern is the potential for fraud and security breaches. With more online transactions, there is a higher risk of cyberattacks and scams. This means that Portugal will need to invest in better security measures and educate the public on how to protect themselves from online fraud.

Furthermore, there are concerns about the impact on small businesses, as they may need more resources to adapt to a cashless society. This could lead to a widening wealth gap and further economic inequality.

What would the benefits be?

Despite these challenges, a cashless society could be incredibly beneficial. It would reduce the cost of producing and handling physical currency, make transactions faster and more efficient, and increase transparency in financial transactions.

As Portugal grapples with these complex issues, the move towards a cashless society is inevitable. However, we must take a thoughtful and measured approach to this transition, ensuring we address the challenges while reaping the benefits.

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