Today we are talking about cash and cashless society.
One day back in 2011 or 2012, I was in the Dallas Airport admiring a very cool leather satchel. The worn leather had aged well through loving use. I was clearly not your average leather bag.
The man who was carrying this bag was in the rental car shuttle bus line at the Dallas Airport. I did not him. I complemented him on this bag.
His eyes grew wide. He looked at me, looked at the bag. Back at me. He was speechless.
I hit a nerve.
I could not have imagined what made that bag so special as to trigger such a response.
It turns out I was chatting up Mr. Roberto Griori, the reclusive man who owned the market on 90% of the world’s printing of paper money. He was the third richest man in Switzerland, a third-generation owner of the company that made the printing presses that 90% of the world’s currencies were printed on.
The bag I complemented was with him the day he was hijacked and forced to land in India. He immediately told me all of the details of how he hid his identity from the hijackers, secretly communicated with armed forces ready to storm the plane, and kept calm while fearing he would most certainly have been targeted if they really knew who he was.
That leather satchel brough forth a flood of memories that he shared with me, standing waiting for our rental cars.
My kind complement of his weathered back brought back all the memories of that day. He shared with me the details, the intrigue, the events leading up to, during, and after the brazen hijacking. He shared his side of the story. It was a breathtaking story. You can read about it here.
He spoke with passion about that critical juncture of his life. He had a brush with death and he said it changed him.
Changed him to the point that he was careful to read the future into every thing he did.
His job was to run the company that sold printing presses. He was even chagrined to point out that his printing presses made it to North Korea where the illegal counterfeit money was as goood as the real thing because it was printed on the same machines! (That’s why the forgeries were so good.)
After he shared the terrifying story of being held hostage at gunpoint with blood-thirsty terrorists, he shared his point of view about paper money. Or rather, the demise of paper money. The company that had brought him his fortune, was going away he said.
I met Mr. Griori when he had just sold his business. Or was thinking about selling it. I cannot recall which.
What I recall is the passion he had for electronic currency and the conviction that paper money was going the way of the dinosaur and stage coach.
He was so passionate about this that we spent the next two hours talking about digital currency. Standing in the lobby of the rental car terminal at the Dallas Airport.
Today, I argue that most of us have access to some sort of digital currency. A debit card. A PayPay account. Pasmo/Suica.
Electronic forms of payment are everywhere.
In Africa they have mPesa. In the US, we have PayPal and debit cards. In Japan, PayPay, dPay, and other electronic currencies have proliferated. In Seattle they tried to implement “No cash” rules at some businesses (but were shot down).
Without mentioning block chain currency such as BitCoin and Ethereum, digital currencies are seemingly become the standard worldwide.
Difficult to steal: You can try to hijack my account, but otherwise, stealing my “card” does not mean you have my money. I can turn off the card and keep my money.
Difficult to hide transactions: Governments love being able to see all the transactions so they can take their taxes.
Dividing line that means: Those without electonic forms of tranacting currency might be left behind. Especially older and less technologically savvy people. They may unwittingly give away their accounts to unsrupulous criminals.
The bottom line is that digital currency is here. It is convenient. And you should have some of those accounts now so you are ready for the digital future.
Be sure to help someone else go digital too.
Along with the caveats that someone will always try to steal your account and password combination. If someone tries to scare you, good chance it is not your bank. Good chance that is a crook getting you nervous so that you give them your money.
Tell me, what electronic means of transfering money do you use?