How will you pay for groceries or gasoline in the future? According to Kabir Sehgal, author of the new book “Coined,” it might not be the old familiar greenback. As technology advances, so do currencies and payment systems.
“Look at Amazon (AMZN) points, Starbucks (SBUX) points. These are effectively the new currencies,” he says. “There are more frequent flyer miles in circulation than dollars, so it's one of the biggest currencies in the world.”
Sehgal believes that the future of money may involve the linking of corporate currencies.
“What if you could go in a taxi and pay with your Starbucks points, or go to Starbucks and pay with Amazon points?” he says. “So effectively you can link up all these corporations and create one unified corporate currency, and it may be very user-friendly.”
He also thinks that mobile phones will likely become the payment device of the future. In recent years Apple Pay (AAPL), Google Wallet (GOOGL), and M-Pesa have been created to facilitate these transactions.
“So increasingly the mobile phone can be the way to pay for items and increase speed in a store,” he says. “Starbucks for example, is it quicker to pay with a mobile phone? Sure, the line will go faster and it's better for consumers, better for Starbucks.”
As for digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Sehgal thinks it is unlikely they will gain traction as an alternative to the U.S. dollar. He points out that the U.S. government still maintains the ultimate power to determine what is a currency. Importantly, taxes in the U.S. can only be paid in U.S. dollars.
“I think what we're seeing now is the Bitcoin will thrive as a technology, not necessarily as a currency,” he says. “Bitcoin is way to transfer files in authenticated manner. That technology will remain and flourish.”
Sehgal says it isn’t illegal to create currency, noting that both Philadelphia and Ithaca created their own local currencies in the 1990s as a way to stimulate economic activity.
Historically, the U.S. has intermittently used many different currencies. “If you look at the Civil War, there were [several] currencies circulating throughout America,” Sehgal points out.