It’s 8:45 a.m. on a Monday morning in 2024. On your way into work, you drop in at your favourite cafe, order a $6.00 coffee and pay for your morning fix by swiping a chip embedded in your forearm across a screen.
It’s hard to predict exactly what the world of money will look like in 10 years’ time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.
With that in mind, The New Daily spoke to the experts about what we can expect when it comes to getting and spending in 2024.
Their predictions make for thought-provoking reading …
When it comes to matters money-related, there’s nothing quite as evocative than a fist full of bank notes – but this iconic image soon could be a thing of the past.
Futurist Peter Ellyard, author of Ideas for the New Millennium, believes that hard currency will be on the way out in 10 years’ time.
“It will be almost all electronic,” Dr Ellyard, who has worked as a consultant to the United Nations for over 30 years, said.
“How many transactions do you make in bank notes? Only small ones – any significant purchase you make on card. Those trends will carry on.”
However, not all experts agree that paper – or polymer – money is destined for the dustbin of history.
Economist Saul Eslake, director of the Productivity Growth program at the Grattan Institute, argues that cash will retain its relevance because of its convenience and may even enjoy a resurgence as more consumers seek to safeguard their privacy.
“People will continue to carry cash on them, partly because that’s still the most convenient way of undertaking small transactions,” he said.
“It may be that if people become more concerned about the extent to which their spending patterns are tracked either by corporations or by Government and spy agencies and the like, then people might choose to do more transactions in cash.
“Although they’ll have to be mindful of the security issue and risks of cash being stolen and so forth … there will still be a role for cash and I imagine the cash won’t look any different from the way it looks today.”
One thing that both experts agree on is that cheques will be soon be an item for collectors.
“Cheques, I imagine, will eventually die an actual death,” Mr Eslake said.
Going to the bank
Banking is set to continue its migration away from local branches towards online, as a generation who have grown up conducting all their transactions over the internet – and may never have even visited a bank – reach maturity.
Mr Eslake predicts that Australians – particularly those sitting above the low income bracket – will prefer to pay bills through direct debit and BPAY, rather than relying on credit, as uncertainties over the global economy linger.
“Households will continue to be more cautious about borrowing, as they have been since the financial crisis, than they were in the 20 years before the crisis,” he said.
Will we need the Australian dollar?
There may be fears that the European Union will abandon the Euro in the face of its ongoing economic troubles, but are shared currencies still a possibility for other regions?
Again, the experts are divided.
Dr Ellyard is of the opinion that Australia could join a single Asian currency, similar to the Euro, one day – and speculates that there may even be a single global currency within the next 25 years.
“ .. If you go back 20 years, every country had a national airline. Now what’s happening is that they’re all amalgamating. Now there are just a few major currencies, the US dollar and the Euro.”
On the other hand, Mr Eslake thinks it unlikely that Australia would merge currencies with any other country – even our neighbour, New Zealand – in the foreseeable future.
“You only have to look at what’s happened in Europe and the difficulties that countries who joined the Euro in 1999 have experienced,” he said.
“The differences between Malaysia and Korea, for example, or between the Philippines and Thailand are so much more than the differences between Spain and Germany that there’s little chance of there being a culmination currency formed.”
The influence of the Chinese Yuan will continue to grow, although the renminbi won’t quite have the status of the world’s principle reserve currency in 10 years’ time, Mr Eslake said.
The US dollar will be still be the most important currency, while the Australia dollar will fall to around the 70c mark over the next few years, he added.
And Bitcoin? Well, the future is hazy. Mr Eslake reckons it’s unlikely regular punters will start buying up big soon.
Like the move away from bricks and mortar banks, investment and financial planning support will gravitate online.
More consumers will use apps to calculate risks and returns. This, in turn, will making investing cheaper, easier and more accessible.
The future of the workplace is smaller and more productive.
Mr Eslake predicts wages will rise a little faster than inflation, but stresses that the extent of the gain depends on whether the Australian government can boost the nation’s declining productivity.
Superannuation and the pension
The ageing population will have a dramatic impact on the world of money, with the proportion of elderly people projected to double in the first four decades of this century.
As the financial burden of supporting those in retirement increases, superannuation is expected to grow in importance and eligibility for the age pension is almost certain be restricted.
“I think the pension age will have to go up and I think Government’s will have to tighten the eligibility for the pension, for example, by including the value of people’s houses in the assets test,” Mr Eslake said.
Mr Eslake believes that the cost of most utilities will rise in line with inflation, although consumers won’t see a continuation of the skyrocketing prices of the past decade.
The exception is the price of natural gas, which is likely to become much more expensive, he adds.
Mr Ellyard’s vision is for a considerably greener Australia, with the country’s energy supply at least 50 per cent from renewables.
Prices will rise but plateau following the initial switch to renewable energy sources – and much of the increase will be offset by more efficient energy use through the popularisation of “green” transport and buildings.
“It is inevitable and even desirable that the cost of electricity goes up, particularly while it is driven by fossil fuel because it is adding to the load on future generations and on the planet,” he said.
Price of coffee
As caffeine addicts know only too well, the price of coffee is already rising out of the “loose change” category – and there appears to be no stopping the trend.
Mr Ellyard estimates that your morning fix will cost about $6 in 2024.
But the good news? He thinks you’ll be earning enough to afford the price rise.