Mapping the future of currency

March 2016 Retail (Industry), Security Services & Risk Management

It is [December 17], 2030 and it is Jaskaran Bhatia, Jake’s 24th birthday, and he plans a surprise bash for his friends. Just woken up… he snaps his finger and the entire wall lights up. With gestures, he scrolls his bedside clock which mirrors his phone screen for messages and sees many wishes from family and friends. Talking to the screen, he instructs a personalised response to each of them. As he moves in front of the washroom mirror another message pops up within the mirror – it’s from the nightclub he has booked for the evening. They want an advance of Rs. 20 000 Rox (the currency of the future)? He places his thumb on the corner of the mirror screen and instantly gets a message payment received. Welcome to payments in 2030.

Jake’s thumb has an integrated microchip smaller than the tip of a needle. It had access to Jake’s RoxVault. Rox is the futuristic currency introduced by the Finance Minister in his budget 2028. It is a unit of accounting that is a combination of every conceivable earning that Jake may have – his salary, loyalty points, other redeemed incentives received in one form from airlines, credit cards, shopping, doing social good etc. On the way to work he calls his friend Maya from his car rear view mirror; once at his workplace when they are done he places his palm on the table which doubles as a screen and the bill of 40 Rox is automatically paid for.

Later that day at a local café, his father’s friend Anjan walks in. Anjan tells Jake, “This cafe is not taking Rox, pulling out a crisp note. I even tried to pay through my digital wallet”, as he pulls out a wafer thin device which looks like a vintage mobile phone. Jake looks at it as some sort of a relic.

“I didn’t think you like collecting antiques uncle, there is no such thing as a mobile wallet. No more. Now, everything is consolidated in RoxVault and I can access it through this chip, which is authenticated by my fingerprints. Even if you buy from the grocer, just touch the small square screen at the counter and payment is done. Phones are only used as wearable devices or as a lapel pin on your shirt or coat nowadays, call the name and it will connect.”

In the meantime, Jake wants to treat himself to the newly launched short distance travelling drone, which is only available if paying in US dollars, and that’s when Rox comes in handy. It is virtually interchangeable and convertible into all possible global payments. All payments and receipts are in Rox.

That closes all transactions… .

Telephones took 110 years to reach 1 billion users, TV took 49 years, mobile phones took 22 years. The Internet took 14 years, and smartphones took 8 years to reach the 1 billion user mark. With every new technology, reaching 1 billion users takes half as long as the previous one, so we might not even have to wait till 2030 to feel the power of digital transactions.

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