Michael Ellison, president and CEO of Corporate Insight, is scheduled to moderate the Bye-Bye Cash panel at CES 2022. Featuring experts in digital payments, cryptocurrency, and the underlying technology enabling it all, the panel will explore novel systems and COVID-19’s transformation of payment. Below is a preview of the conversation.

The end of cash? The end of wallets? Will contactless payments become universal post COVID-19?

The pandemic changed how people pay, with COVID-19 transmission concerns increasing the popularity of touch-free digital payment options. These changes mean that physical wallets, and not just physical cash, may soon be a thing of the past. Consumers are now more likely to use apps—such as Google Pay or Apple Pay—or QR code payments to pay for their in-person purchases. CI’s Credit Card Monitor research team noted that CVS, Amazon, Foot Locker, Nike, and supermarkets like Giant Eagle all added new in-person digital payment capabilities in 2020 and 2021. These payment options mean it may now be easier to get through a day without your wallet than without your phone.

The CES 2022 Bye-Bye Cash panel will discuss how merchants, customers, acceptors and banks responded to new cashless systems—and what they need to do moving forward.

What technologies will firms need to adopt?

The U.S. was initially slow to adopt EMV chip credit cards, with both merchants and card issuers needing new technology (chip-enabled card readers and chip-enabled cards, respectively) and neither willing to make the first move. Card issuers finally forced adoption across the U.S. over the last seven years by shifting fraud liability. The pandemic further increased the adoption rate as people wanted to use their cards to tap-and-go without making physical contact or exchanging paper bills. New card readers in turn make it even easier for merchants to offer other NFC payment options, such as phone-based digital wallets. The world continues to shift away from cash.

U.S customers, particularly those in large cities, now see cashless payment available in areas previously dominated by the almighty quarter. Payment at laundromats, bodegas, vending machines and parking meters can now be completed without physical money, or even making physical contact. The panel will examine where contactless payment might spread to next and the technologies firms will need to enable it.

What about cryptocurrency? How can a decentralized payment system earn wider adoption?

As with any discussion of crypto, this section will surely feature more questions than answers. Is it a speculative investment bubble or the future of money? How does cryptocurrency fit into the future of payment?

Cryptocurrency reached a $3 trillion market cap in 2021—yet it remains a challenge for anyone to actually buy a physical product with their crypto holdings. While some crypto believers have made an effort to allow customers to exchange their currency for goods and services—Tesla plans to accept crypto, as do the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks—the purchasing process can be complicated. (Dallas Mavericks fans need to call the box office to exchange crypto for tickets. Merchandise is easier to purchase, with a Bitpay option that is similar to an online credit card payment.) How will blockchain currencies play into the future of payment? Will these currencies upend the digital payment space? Or will hurdles remain that prevent crypto from becoming anything other than a speculative bubble? We can’t guarantee an answer, but we can guarantee the questions are worth considering.

Join Mike Ellison at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 5 at CES 2022 for this panel session on the future of payment.

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