The nature of money has been changing at an accelerating pace, with new forms of money and new issuers of money. What will the monetary landscape look like in 2050? What institutions – if any – will issue it? How will we store and measure value? How will we organise our transactions? Will cash continue to play a role?
This paper is based on a Futures Literacy Lab hosted by CashEssentials and the UNESCO Chair for the Future of Finance at Ecole des Ponts Business School, in September 2022. Our capacity to anticipate the future of money has been limited by our collective poverty of imagination, and this has strengthened the narrative of a linear forward projection of today’s circumstances and changes which is assumed to lead to a singular digital future for money.
Futures Literacy provides the capability to overcome this poverty of imagination and avoid path dependence, to imagine a monetary landscape which promotes social as well as technological innovation. This requires defining and anticipating different use cases for different forms of money, including cash. Aspirations for the future monetary landscape include improving inclusion, increasing sustainability, reinforcing resilience, protecting privacy and civil liberties and reducing friction within economies. Cash clearly offers different answers on these perspectives and the cash community needs to take a leadership role in designing a relevant and effective role for cash in the future.