And as an almost untraceable payment method, cash is often associated with underground trade, covert deeds and crime.
A working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that switching the welfare payment programs from paper checks to electronic benefit transfer cards led to a significant decrease in the overall crime rate and the specific offenses of burglary, assault and larceny in poor Missouri neighborhoods.
Moreover, there's the convenience of more high-tech money. Credit cards and other cashless systems provide more recourse when money is stolen, establish a purchase history with a merchant and can provide privacy — all attributes of payment systems that were valued highly by participants in a study presented last year at the seventh Information Design International Conference.
In that study, participants only used cash when they feared card fraud, the study authors noted. But digital payment processor Braintree said technological advances like tokenization have rapidly improved transaction security.
The process of issuing vendors a key code, rather than a credit card number, to charge accounts enables Braintree to connect customers to real-time services like Uber, Airbnb, Munchery and other quickly scaling services that would not have made sense with cash.
"The first thing we sought to do is to democratize the access," said Juan Benitez, general manager at Braintree. "Many of those merchants want to go global more quickly than ever before, supporting all these mobile technologies. ... It's really important to merchants to select a platform that helps them do those things."
Read MoreThe latest in the battle to own your digital wallet