Usage of physical money has been gradually decreasing ultimately leading us towards a cashless society. At the same time, data and information steal the limelight of cash. For instance, the car’s data can become more valuable than the car itself! A model of a money-free society can be found in the Star Trek. Is that the utopia where humanity is heading to? Let’s peek into the future of society after money.
Society after money
In the west, cash is being used less in favor of credit cards, mobile payment, and digital currency. According to the World Payment Report 2016, the Nordic countries ratio of cash in circulation to GDP is decreasing making the region cash-free in the nearest future. Capgemini and BNP Paribas report that overall in the world, non-cash transactions are likely to grow at 10%, surpassing 426 billion transactions globally. For instance, China alone reported a 47,9 percent growth of online payments in 2016. Virtual currency offers better control over spending by providing budgeting tips and expenditure analytics. Moreover, security measures like EMV and biometrics usage, new government initiations, and strong economic expansion, drive online payments growth worldwide. All those developments signal that the world is moving towards a cashless society where the resources and skills will have the biggest value. However, what will happen with those who do not possess any resources or specific skills? It is a call to reinvent democracy that can provide equality in the unequal future.
What will society
look like post-money?
As most of the futuristic inventions come from sci-fi, money-free society system can be inspired by Star Trek. In the interplanetary world, citizens can gain through talent and intellect, not physical possessions. In this case, the main investment should fall on intellectual development. The robots and machines also play a big role in a money free society. They do most of the physical work so that humans can focus on intellectual development. Manu Saadia, author of the book about Star Trek economics Trekonomics, says that the economics of a society strongly influence the individuals. He states that a money-free society is less interested in consumption and wealth while focused on education, art, love and to learn and discover new things. In such world money is irrelevant. As one of Star Trek characters Captain Picard says, ‘We’ve overcome hunger and greed, and we’re no longer interested in the accumulation of things.'
The description of the economy of Star Trek sounds a lot like a utopia. The question is whether it is possible to be built in the real life. Star Trek is a post-scarcity society with no poverty and hunger, with unlimited energy and outstanding replication technology. They have succeeded in winning the human greediness by providing any desire to all citizens. As a result, intellectuality and information give a status. The Venus Project is attempting to recreate similar structure on Earth.
Venus project -
A cashless society will need a new system as democracy, capitalism, communism, and other systems, do not have tools for managing a money-free economy. American futurist Jacque Fresco came up with a new Resource-Based economy. He states that the resources in agriculture, technology, and workforce are enough to be shared between everyone. Money, on the other hand, is not. The city he dreams of is run by a central computer which will spread the resources according to the citizens’ needs. Fresco and his associate Meadows have created a real model city of the project in Florida. The Venus Project Research Center is a compound with beautiful nature, housing for volunteers and workshop buildings containing hundreds of Fresco’s models. According to the project's website, the world’s monetary system must collapse before resource-based economies like the Venus Project can truly flourish.
a new resource
In the resource-based economy, data and its management are vital. An expert with the right knowhow of data utilization is a real asset in a highly technological society. The expanding data usage produces demand for new professions. Data brokers are professionals who process and analyze information about consumers on request. The information can be collected from any digital source including social media and websites.
What is more, data empower consumers and can help them to manage the personal information. Datacoup is a company that allows its users to sell own personal data. This way, consumers take control over personal data choosing what can be sold or shared with third parties. Datacoup makes it is easy for anyone with access to a computer to set up an account and sell data from personal social media accounts and other online activities. With services provided by this company and similar organizations, the need for data brokers can be questioned.
As cash is disappearing, data and information become another important currency. For example, CNNTech states that data of a vehicle soon will be worth more than the vehicle itself. Through sensors and gadgets, information regarding the car’s performance is saved for analysis. According to the CEO of the vehicle communication company Nexar, Eran Shir, this data can help improve security and digitalize the surroundings. In other words, the vehicle data can assist in the advancement of technology when collected in great numbers.
The world is moving towards digital currency and moneyless transactions. Resource-based economies like the Venus Project, created by Jacques Fresco, focus on dividing resources equally and leaving money behind. Society after money will more likely to be a resource-based economy, which will require new system and institutions.