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The age of cash is almost over, says tech entrepreneur

  • Paying for things with traditional bank notes is increasingly dwindling
  • Though most payments are still made with cash, Sohn said a demonetarization is taking place

A world without paper payments is rapidly approaching, the co-founder of the Sohn Conference Foundation said Thursday.

Evan Sohn, who works in the payments industry, told CNBC that paying for things with traditional bank notes is increasingly dwindling as the appetite for contactless payments and digital currencies grows.

"How far are we from a restaurant that says we only take online payment? If you eat here, you have to download this application and we only take electronic payment, no cash here, no check," Sohn said on the sidelines of the Sohn Conference Foundation, which raises money to fight pediatric cancer.

"I don't think we are that far away from it," he added.

Though most payments are still made with cash, Sohn said a demonetarization is taking place.

A worker demonstrates Apple Pay inside a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo.
Getty Images
A worker demonstrates Apple Pay inside a mobile kiosk sponsored by Visa and Wells Fargo.

According to the 2017 World Payments Report, global non-cash transaction volumes rose 11.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 to reach $433.1 billion — the highest growth of the past decade and above forecasts. The same report added that debit cards and credit transfers were the leading digital instruments in 2015, though the use of check continued to decline.

Sohn said that he is uncertain what the principal replacement for cash will be, whether it is Bitcoin, American Express, MasterCard or something else entirely. But "the next step is moving away paper-based currencies."