At Checkout, More Ways to Avoid Cash or
CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Published: November 15, 2009
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
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
“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
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