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Think about the last time you ran out for a bottle of wine or stopped someplace after work for a few groceries: Did you have to swing by an ATM first? Did you make sure you had plenty of cash in your wallet to cover the cost?
If you're like most Americans in 2018, the answer is probably… of course not.
It's more likely you used a debit or credit card, or even iOS, Android, Venmo, or PayPal. A debit here, a credit there, all effortlessly unfolding in the ones and zeros of cyberspace.
I'm simplifying here, but the cashless, convenient transaction between you and the merchant took place via computer – your bank, the merchant's bank, the clearinghouse – everyone involved used the U.S. communications network and financial system to "settle up" and get business done.
Now, I'm going to ask you to imagine something completely ridiculous – just for a second.