Recent developments in mobile payments have re-ignited popular interest in a cash free economy, but the popular discourse surrounding all this seems unaware of its rather long and tumultuous history. This historical myopia has led many contemporary journalists and futurists to make the same kind of predictions about the imminent “death of cash” that were made in the 1960s, and those are as likely to be incorrect this time as they were half a century ago. Clearly, the technological infrastructure is much more advanced now, but it takes much more than technical engineering to build a cashless society; one must also “engineer” the relevant social dynamics, and that has always been the far more difficult part.
Thus, our primary goal for this project is to inform and influence both the popular and the academic discussion surrounding cashless payments. We want to help journalists add historical and international perspectives to their stories on mobile and electronic payments. We want to help the general reading public make better sense of the rapid changes happening within banking and payments. We want to give banking and payments practitioners a better understanding of their own history. And we want to connect academics from various disciplines through the common thread of money and payments.