Consumer Reports: Living in a cashless society

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Living a cashless lifestyle (WLS)

Cash is king, right? But check your pockets. Almost half of us walk around with less than $20.

With so many other ways to pay, including mobile wallets, merchant apps, and old-fashioned credit and debit cards, Consumer Reports said there's a growing trend toward cashing out.

Rachel Hook walks around every day with almost no money in her wallet.

"I don't use cash or checks. Actually, I don't even have a checkbook or cash," Hook said.

She pays for virtually everything, including her share of groceries to her roommate, through an app on her phone.

"Credit and debit cards are still important cashless players, but new technologies are pushing us to abandon paper money entirely," said Margot Gilman, Consumer Reports.

You could already be helping make cash obsolete if you're using one of the 37-million electronic toll tags on the road.

Maybe you're using a mobile wallet, like Apple Pay, Android pay, PayPal or Samsung Pay, or a person-to-person payment system via Square, Popmoney, Facebook Payments in Messenger, or Venmo, to pay friends in a snap.

Branded apps, from companies like Starbucks, Walmart, Uber and Dunkin' Donuts, make it simple for you to pay, while building customer loyalty for the merchants.

But experts at Consumer Reports said there are potential down sides.

"Mobile payments can generate a mountain of digital data that can tell lots about us that we may not want people to know," Gilman said.

Digitalization of dollars also creates an irresistible target for cybercriminals.

"Hackers can be relentless. So consider connecting any technology to a credit card rather than your bank account. You might incur some fees, but you'll be afforded the same protections as if you used the credit card itself," Gilman said.

That means cashless convenience may be more secure than you think.

In the future, you may be getting rid of more than just your wallet. One day, you may not even need your phone. New, cashless technologies on the horizon will let you make payments with just your fingerprint.

An app is in the works that will let you scan merchandise and pay for your purchases as you walk through the store, without ever going to a cash register.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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