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Stupid Survey Watch: 65% of Pew 'Experts' are Idiots


By Ken Magill

Sixty five percent of a bunch of so-called Internet experts surveyed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reportedly agreed with the statement: “By 2020, most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases they make, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards.”

Of those who agreed with the statement, 100 percent also agreed that by 2020, the war on illegal drugs will be over, prostitution will be an over-the-counter transaction, babysitters will report their income and pay taxes on it, and bartenders and waiters will prefer to be tipped electronically so the transactions can be tracked.

Just kidding. I made that last bit up.

But in order for their prediction to come true, my made up prediction must come true, as well.

Think for a moment about the sheer volume of transactions that take place every day that people want to do anonymously.

The billions of dollars Americans spend on illegal drugs alone every year guarantee the ongoing existence of cash.

Moreover, like media, payment methods are not a zero-sum game. Mass adoption of a new one does not necessarily replace the old one. Think: radio.

However, the zero-sum gamers were well represented in the Pew report.

For example, Jerry Michalski, founder and guide of Relationship Economy Expedition, wrote: “Cash and credit cards as we know them are on their way out. Automation is here and will keep rushing in,” according to Pew Internet.

Yes, automation is here and will keep rushing in, but it’s not rushing into a confined space.

Then there was the anonymous commenter who said: “This is a no-brainer. Cash is already disappearing and people are not wedded to credit cards. Whatever is fastest (given sufficient security) will work.”

Actually, the no-brainer here is whoever left that comment.

One of the few voices of reason in the Pew survey was Robert Ellis at Peterson, Ellis, Fergus & Peer LLP. He argued that, “Cash will never disappear because there will always be a demand for it—for anonymous transactions, illegal transactions, and transactions in far-flung areas where the non-cash technologies haven't been implemented.”

Another voice of reason was consultant and Internet research expert Stowe Boyd, who noted there’s a need for people to have the option of anonymity in their transactions: “There is a wide range of use cases where anonymity is necessary, like illegal transactions (drugs, sex, bribes), gray economics (paying undocumented immigrants), or other sorts of secret activities (gift for a mistress). It's conceivable that an anonymous form of digital money could serve in place of cash, like the design thinking behind Bitcoin, but that remains to be seen.”

Then there’s the issue of warehouse scenes in television shows and movies about organized crime:

Joey Big Balls: Hey, what’s with the muscle, Tony? I thought I told you to come alone.

Fat Tony: Just because you tell me to come alone doesn’t mean I listen. Capish? Relax. These are just some friends.

Joey Big Balls: Okay, but anyone tries anything funny, ain’t no one walking out of here alive. Did you bring the money like we agreed?

Fat Tony: Of course. You got the package?

Joey Big Balls: It’s all right here. One hundred percent pure. Now where’s the money?

Fat Tony [Holding up his phone]: It’s here.

Joey Big Balls: Where?

Fat Tony: Here. It’s here in my f@*&in’ phone. It’s 2020. We don’t need cash no more. Those Pew @ssholes said so. Remember?


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Richard
Date: 2012-05-11 14:19:50
Subject: Joey

I couldn't agree more. Although many of our everyday transactions will be happening automatically in the near future. There will always be a place for cash. And your absolutely right tip or cash oriented business models will never move over because they will never give the consumer the option. Whats their motivation to volunteer to be monitored and taxed. Overall even big government does want their cash transaction to be tracked either and these items seen on their campaign expenditure reports.
Posted by: Liz L.
Date: 2012-04-24 16:23:40
Subject: "nearly" eliminating cash

This survey made the experts either agree or disagree, in order to make it more dramatic. The real picture is a bit more nuanced. I don't think cash will ever disappear. However, there are signs cash use will decline-perhaps significantly. Many coins now cost more to make than the face value. Think about how much is spent producing cash, transporting cash and protecting cash. Transitioning to mobile money is really the next step from credit cards. It's all just data now. With the increasing use of smartphones, consumers are going to see the value and convenience of mobile money. Starbucks has processed $42 million in mobile payments in the last 15 months. Of course, that's a fraction of their total sales, but I think it's a sign of things to come.