Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeMoneyManaging your Money

Digital: The Future of Payments


31st May 2020 Managing your Money

The old adage used to be that “cash is king” but in recent years there have been many steps taken to depose it from its preciously unassailable position. As we’ll see, technology has been at the heart of this switch towards digital, cashless transactions and there have been other factors too. For example, the growth of different cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is no longer just an appealing investment choice on the cryptocurrency markets, increasingly, it’s being accepted as a payment system in its own right. People are also investing in bitcoins with online trading sites like crypto engine.


This has all been playing out with the decline of cash as a backdrop and there are a number of reasons for this. The first is that having large sums of money in circulation has always been something of a risk: cash can be lost, stolen and even destroyed by accident. It’s also more complex for banks to handle and manage than digital payments.

So, it’s no wonder that it’s the banks themselves that have led the way to urging us towards a more cashless society. They have done this both by encouraging online banking as well, more controversially, of carrying out mass branch closures. The figures are stark. In the last five years a third of all bank branches have closed down, particularly affecting rural areas. Along with this, 400 ATMs are disappearing each year as we head towards a cashless society.

A number of methods of digital payment have stepped in to replace the old cash systems and the use of the debit card is probably the one that most people are familiar with. With the advent of contactless payments this has undoubtedly become the quickest and most convenient way to pay. Cards have also been largely responsible for the proportion of payments made in cash to drop down to just 28% in 2018 compared with 60% a decade earlier.

E-wallets such as Skrill and Neteller have also become increasingly popular methods of payment. These are connected to an individual’s debit, credit or pre-paid account and provide a quick and convenient way to transfer funds.

We’ve already touched on cryptocurrencies and, for their evangelists, these are the digital payment method for the future. Designed for fast, 100% secure transactions, they are already being accepted as payment methods by businesses as diverse as Microsoft and Starbucks. So, while their future can’t precisely be predicted at the moment, they are very possibly going to grow in importance in coming years.

Another factor that is continuing to drive the growth of digital transactions is the convergence of technology. Through apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay even the days of the traditional debit or credit cards may be numbered as we use our smartphones instead.

But, for all this talk of a bright new digital future, there are some major issues to be ironed out. The first of these is one of security. We have already seen, all too often, how the digital world has attracted fraudsters of all kinds. So security is of pressing importance and this is why more and more steps of identity verification, for example through biometric data, will surely be required.

There’s also the question of inclusion. For people who have no access to the internet or the necessary technology for digital payments, they risk being left behind.

However, progress will continue to march ahead and, no doubt, solutions will be found and implemented to ensure the continuing success of the digital revolution.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.


This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit