The Economist writes:
Information-money can be handled by any information-processing device. That includes the mobile phone, which can add to money’s utility thanks to its display and its power at any time to link to your bank as a mobile ATM. Visa thinks a contactless digital transaction takes less than half the time of a cash one and that people liberated from what happens to be in their wallets spend a fifth more.
Which is why digital cash is now solving its chicken-and-egg problem. In the past shopkeepers would not install systems unless shoppers had electronic cash. And shoppers would not use electronic cash unless they had something to buy. But smart cards and readers have become cheap and consumers now possess mobile phones in droves. The trillions of payments that are too small to bear the fees of paying by credit card have come within reach and almost everyone stands to gain. Some Japanese merchants have already begun to offer discounts to people using electronic cash. Others will follow.