2012 was a great movie. Interstellar was even better. Jurassic Park is a classic which was recently revisited with Jurassic World.
I do not care much for John Cusack’s acting, because there was not much of that. Nor do I care for the fact that Jurassic World made Irrfan the No. 1 Khan in the world, he already was the Khan around when it came to acting. And although I would be lying if I said I did not care much for Nolan’s directing, that is not where I am getting at.
So what is it that I am trying to say, one might ask? The answer is imagination. These movies were good simply for the reason that they opened a window for us. Through this window, we were exposed to the awesome and terrifying possibilities of an apocalyptic world. What if the oceans go wild? What if genetics succeeds in reviving the dinos? What if humanity’s last hope lies halfway across the universe?
But there are no movies for other equally promising premises. What if the world ran out of oxygen? What if there was no Metallica or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin? What if there was no war? What if being straight led you to be judged?
There is one such question which would be quite interesting. What if cash, as a form of realising monetary agreements, became obsolete?
Fifty years ago, such a situation would have led to total chaos; nothing short of tsunamis, dinos and extinction. But this is the 21st century, right? We are in the midst of a technical revolution which is gonna be around for a long time to come. We have the internet and digitization is on peak. So what would really happen today?
A few months ago, I would have freaked out if there were no websites letting me purchase grocery. Earlier, it was almost with religious regularity, that I visited the supermarket to stock up on supplies. And also now, I need not worry about having cash. Everything is leisurely available online. Leave aside groceries, I can order food of any choice to soothe my taste buds too. I can do that by downloading restaurant reviewing apps which will also let me order food. This not only makes the process hassle-free but also saves me a lot of time.
Oh damn! How do I convince the autowallahs to get me to my destination? No cash? Chuck it! The gentlemen driving these autos never seem to have change anyway! I have transportation aggregators like Uber, Ola, Carpooling. I was beginning to think that Mumbaikars hop on to autos even to go next door! It would do me a world of good to walk those short distances! +1 to fitness 🙂 On a serious note, the trade-offs would be many. Pre-paid taxis are not so easily and quickly available. There would be an increased need to get your own vehicle. The already ailing BEST would roll over and go extinct. The time required to get transport would become a big factor to consider. But I guess, companies like Uber and Ola would make such a killing that the number of their taxis plying on the road would increase exponentially. The only fear is that, sooner or later everybody will have only two options, i.e to go for prepaid cabs or get your own vehicle. This may lead to a monopoly by these companies and prices may be prone to increase crazily, much like what they are doing now for the autos. Unless of course, government services upgrade to cashless transactions and can compete with the private players, which is…err…a hope we will never lose.
- Bills – Phone, Electricity, water etc.
I still remember the frustration (lazy guy here :P) of having to go to the local shop and load up my phone with both talktime and internet balance. Nowadays, with people being online almost 24/7 and with the advent of a plethora of messengers and online services, internet balance has become almost as important as the air we breathe. With 3G being guzzled up pretty quickly, and 2G seeming like a relic of the stone age, staying in touch in real time costs money. Who wants to go that local shop and keep recharging your phone anyway. Same goes for bills (electricity, water, gas). So what will happen if cash becomes obsolete? No worries! Almost all service providers and banks have options to pay online. So it would not be a problem at all. In fact, many of the websites which provide online wallets started as platforms to pay bills online. e.g Paytm.
My father still announces some days, ‘Aaj bank ka kaam hai, will be gone for a few hours’. He belongs to the group of people who are still stuck in the era when going to the bank was a big programme that had to be made. Updating passbooks from time to time, clearing off payments by writing cheques, withdrawing money for upcoming events like shopping, weddings etc, it is all very tedious and time consuming. Although net banking has been a boon, some people, like my dad, prefer going old school. But what if cash became obsolete? Would it still make sense to go the bank every now and then? Even when one would be compelled to make payments in a cashless manner anyway? Thankfully, net banking is quite well developed and has come a long way since its inception in 1998 by ICICI bank (in India). Most companies use net banking to make salary payments. It would make sense to keep the money in the account and continue with life through online transactions.
In fact all the transactions would reflect in your passbook and there would be a centralised way to keep track of expenses. Net banking has become a big thing already. It is a very easy mode of making transactions. A far cry from the days before, when there would be money orders and stuff.
In conclusion, the notes and coins in our wallet would in near future be reflected in wallet apps, which would be accompanied by credit cards and debit cards. Life would change in the sense that, there would be new services to keep a track of and manage your money. Money which would no longer be tangible! That would take some years getting used to!
One thing is certain, if cash becomes obsolete, the need for good internet connections would be the need of the hour. India might finally need that widespread 4G coverage!
This article is contributed by Mr. Amar Parulekar