Bangor academic invited to launch new seminar series on the Cashless Society

Bangor Business School’s Professor Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo was invited to launch a new series of seminars on the subject of ‘Entrepreneurial Opportunities and the Cashless Society’ as part of the Glasgow Business History Seminar Series, a joint venture between business historians located in Strathclyde Business School and the University of Glasgow.

Professor Bátiz-Lazo, Professor of Business History and Bank Management at Bangor, delivered a lecture entitled ‘Entrepreneurial opportunities and the development of the cashless society’ at Strathclyde Business School in January.

The Glasgow Business History Seminar Series is a joint venture between business historians located in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Department of Management (Strathclyde Business School) and the Centre for Business History in Scotland (University of Glasgow). The city of Glasgow has a very rich tradition of researching business history and the seminar series is, in many respects, designed to further develop the links between the growing cluster of business historians in and around the city. The series also intends to promote and encourage engagement between academics and members of the general public by discussing the different aspects of the discipline.

“In this inaugural seminar we aimed to bring together two ideas”, explains Professor Bátiz-Lazo. “First, was a survey of the current state of understanding the development of entrepreneurial opportunities within mobile payments and electronic currencies. In this regard, we know retail payments to be a complex ecosystem, with many stakeholders who must be incentivized (and enabled technologically) to work together to adopt new products or enhancements. Change takes place slowly, however. There is thus little to show for the large historical investment behind the plethora of digital wallets and the continuing promise that mobile payments will increase financial inclusion. However, there is greater competition between alternative digital solutions than between cash, credit/debit payments and electronic solutions with no clear winner in sight. 

“Secondly, we traced the origins of the idea of a cashless society. For some, this dates to the Middle Ages and Thomas Moore’s utopian vision, but there is firmer evidence in the 19th century French philosophers and the Socialist Utopians (notably Edward Bellamy). In its more contemporary (and technologically informed) concept, it dates to developments around the first computers in banking in the mid 1950s.

“The lecture also identified a number of stakeholders in the USA both promoting and arguing against a cashless society in the 1960s and 1970s. It finished by detailing a particular and failed application of cashless payments, the Entrée card – the forerunner of what is today known as VISA Debit. This visionary solution was indeed a debit card promoted by the very entrepreneurial CEO of VISA, Dee Hock.

“In conclusion, the lecture used the idea of an 'inevitable' transition to a cashless society to illustrate how business decisions are influenced by past events as much as by expectations for the future.”

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Publication date: 19 February 2013