Money only has value because we assign it value. Even cold hard cash began as a note to represent a portion of our nation’s precious metals. And thank to today’s modern technology, the idea of assigned value can be taken in nearly infinite directions.
It seems like new forms of currency and ways to spend it are being invented every day, so as providers of incentives and rewards — we have to keep up. Let’s take a look at a few interesting trends in today’s currency:
- Smiles don’t cost a thing — but they are worth a meal. Sometimes you can flash a smile and get a free cup of coffee, but have you ever wished your face could pay for a whole meal? In China, it can. KFC opened a new restaurant in China called “K PRO” where a self-serve kiosk scans your face as a form of payment, and moments later you receive your meal without ever needing a card.
- No card, no problem. Hit the ATM without your wallet. Wells Fargo recently announced that they’re upgrading more than 40% of their ATMs with tap and pay technology. That means customers only need to hold their phone near a terminal to make a transaction. It seems the need for your trusty, leather-bound wallet may be coming to an end.
- The reason behind Cryptocurrency’s success isn’t so cryptic. The big appeal of Bitcoin — and other cryptocurrencies — is that they’re decentralized, private, anonymous and fast. But most recently, the “fast” aspect is getting even more attention. Coinbase (a digital currency exchange company) announced the removal of their 3-5 day waiting period in favor of instant purchases.
- Now you can split the check and shop online all with one app. Companies like Paypal are also working to remove the barriers between digital currency and point of purchase. Their peer-to-peer payment service Venmo is expanding their offerings to give users the ability to shop online using their Venmo balance. This new capability creates a more fluid currency and removes the need to transfer your money to a bank before you can use it.
The intersection between technology and currency continues to grow. With this evolution, we move further and further away from physical currency. All the more reason to look into virtual solutions when it’s time to incentivize or reward employees, respondents or customers.