Much has been written and observed about the current state (and future) of payment technology. Credit card processing software has become increasingly important in the everyday lives of consumers, to the point where those who have their credit accounts compromised (or refuse to open one at all) have few options when it comes to large-scale transactions. This ever-growing reliance on the capabilities of digital banking has many thinking about the possibilities of the "cashless society," and it is vital that vendors also keep this in mind as they seek out the best and most secure systems for their professional use.

At a recent workshop coordinated by the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI), entitled "Payment Technologies: Past, Present and Future," a broad range of topics relating to modern commerce were discussed. Circulating among the participants was an essay co-authored by Bill Maurer, the Institute's Director, and doctoral student Lana Swartz. The paper examined the bigger picture of physical currency versus more abstract notions, saying that newer developments may be leading us to an old idea.

"The 'end of cash' is on the agenda, seemingly everywhere. Constituencies rarely aligned—multinational payments companies, economic development and aid practitioners, nonprofit volunteers and venture capitalists—are coming together around the prospect of the supposedly imminent disappearance of physical currency objects," the authors said. They also noted that "money of account, recorded in transactional records, long predated the minting of coin or other tangible objects used as a universal equivalent for exchange. In the beginning was not the coin, but the receipt." 

Whatever this means for societies or the economy, one thing is certain: POS card processing is an indelible part of the current consumer landscape. Merchants that work to incorporate secure and well-designed programs into their payment infrastructure will see better business as the future unfolds, whatever it may be.