According to a survey by Walker Sands, a Chicago-based public relations firm, nearly 1-in-5 consumers do not carry any cash on them. In total, more than 60 percent of consumers carry $20 or less in cash. Surprisingly, about 1-in-20 people say they don't use cash and refuse to go to places that accept only physical currency. (The survey was conducted over the last year among 1,046 consumers across the United States.)
And other surveys show a similar trend: According to a 2012 study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 27 percent of purchases in 2011 were made with cash. By 2017, the group expects that number to drop to 23 percent.
So, yes, we're headed toward a cashless society. But what about plastic credit cards, as well?
The End of the Costanza Wallet
People use cash less. Receipts are redundant with online banking. And products like Coin allow people to pay digitally, instead of with a physical credit card. Could the George Costanza wallet be a thing of the past?
Christine Pietryla, the senior vice president of public relations for Walker Sands, said she was immediately drawn to Coin. It's a product that fits into her firm's research: People want their consumer experience to be simpler, easier, and more efficient.
"It's definitely a challenge to find an application or a solution that puts everything all in one place," she said. "This is unique in that it does do that."
Consumers are starting to prefer digital options in payments: According to the same research from Walker Sands, 28 percent of consumers are more likely to use a digital gift card, rather than a plastic gift card. It only makes sense that services like PayPal, a business that allows people to make payments and money transfers through the Internet, have taken off.
Similarly, Google Wallet, launched in 2011, allows users to store information for their debit cards, credit cards, reward cards, or gift cards on their mobile phone. For participating stores, someone can just tap their phone to a PayPass terminal to pay for a product. Google Wallet users can all send money through Gmail attachments. Additionally, Google announced last week that it was introducing prepaid debt cards that can be used in ATMs.
And in the same survey, 95 percent of people say they've purchased something from Amazon in the last year.
PayPal, in fact, last week just made a deal with another digital start-up, Uber—a car service company that uses a mobile application to hail rides.
Other start-ups, like Isis (which allows consumers to pay for items in person through their smartphones) or Dynamics (which created a similar multi-account card like Coin), also have products that offer a different way of paying for goods.
It's not just how you pay, but how businesses get paid.
The future of retail goes well beyond Coin or PayPal. It's also about how stores are processing your payments.