Is money the root of all evil? (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to these shows). Computers promised us a paperless society, but that hasn’t come to pass. Now debit cards promise us a cashless society–will this vision of the future come true?

Futurists and visionaries have predicted the imminent arrival of the cashless society for at least 50 years. It would avoid the loss of billions of dollars monthly in financial and other crimes, and deliver unprecedented convenience and security to consumers. And yet somehow cash endures, to the benefit of tax cheats, smugglers, and muggers.

Nevertheless, new technologies are now poised to bring us closer than ever to a cashless ideal. Starting with the gold coins of antiquity, we have arrived at a point where fewer than a quarter of retail transactions are done with cash. And several technologies and trends will accelerate the trend toward cashlessness.

One is the proliferation of smart phones, which are starting to allow convenient cashless transactions at retailers worldwide. New trends are starting to make cold, hard cash a thing of the past. Now if we could only get out of the recession and get a good job, we could make some cashless purchases!