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Student Research Guide WQ24/ Cashless Societies/Digital Currency

Student Research Guide for Library 201/ Alicia Edison

What is this Guide for?


The Impact of Society's Transition to A Cashless Economy


 This is a student created research guide for English 102 & Library 201 Learning community

  • This guide will address society's continuing transition to a cashless economy.
  • This guide will also explore how a cashless economy impacts people, and potential ways to mitigate those impacts.


  • The research thesis for this guide is to explore the current transition from an economy that uses physical currency to an economy that is completely digital, and the impacts of that transition on society.

The research questions addressed in this guide are:

  1. What is a cashless economy, and is it inevitable for society?
  2. Are there areas that are closer to a cashless economy than others, and if so where?
  3. What are the impacts, of transitioning to a cashless economy, on society?


As technology advances, so does the use of cashless means of payment, even more so since the COVID pandemic. The debate continues over whether this is a good choice, or if cash should remain the dominant form of currency. It may not be a choice though. This research paper posed the question of the inevitability of a cashless society, and the impact it will have on people. The methodology used was a wide search of the established literature found in SVC databases, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The results and concluding paper indicated there is limited information available that is both broad in scope and takes a neutral stance on the issue. The limited available articles seem to suggest that a cashless society is the inevitable progression of technology and humanity. If this is the case, the focus should be placed on mitigating the harm that the transition could cause to vulnerable groups of people. Implications would be that further research is needed to understand how best to make the transition to the cashless future work the best for all people.

Background Information

From the earliest forms of barter, people have always found a means to exchange goods and services with one another. That means has changed many times over the millennia before it became what it is today, and it is changing again. Since the introduction of the multipurpose credit card in 1950, the use of cashless currencies has only grown in popularity.

In a cashless society, physical cash is not accepted in any financial transaction, instead electronic/digital currencies are exclusively used. This could be in the form of credit cards, debit cards, electronic funds transfers, mobile payment services, and even cryptocurrency. The transition to a cashless economy isn't entirely good, or bad, but it is the direction humanity is heading currently. 

Video, Graph, or Image

The video below provides a short overview of the history of currency, as well as the transition to cashless currencies. It also explains some of the positive and negative impacts of a cashless society.

Source citation:

We are IF, 2017. Cashless society ‘IF’ we need money?. YouTube, 23/Feb/24.

All Content CC-BY.