Pity the Royal Mint, forced to issue a plaintive proclamation that coins and notes are here to stay, after the Co-op revealed that cashless payments have trebled in a year to make up two thirds of all purchases in its stores. Cash, the Mint insisted, “remains the currency option the general public turns to for confidence, convenience and security”. By which it presumably means, “when the chip and PIN machine is broken”.The truth is, cash is dying – and we shouldn’t really mourn. To understand why, think back to when contactless payment came in. It felt a bit like magic – you just tapped your card, and that was it. I remember being a little bit freaked out by how easy it was, that it shouldn’t be possible to spend money that easily, that it couldn’t possibly be secure. And now? Over the past year – and in particular since last September, when the payment limit was raised from ?20 to ?30 – it’s become entirely normal, the thing you use automatically to pay for everything from a quick trip to the supermarket to a round of drinks at the pub (although that ?30 may not cover a round of drinks for that much longer in central London, judging by the way prices have been going). In fact, contactless payments is a great example of something I talk about in my new book, The Great Acceleration: the way we don’t just crave ever greater convenience, but come to expect it, even demand it. A speed of service that once seemed miraculous comes to seem entirely normal. The other day I was in one of the rare shops which didn’t have contactless fitted, and I found myself turning into Harry Enfield’s Kevin the Teenager, grumbling to myself about how completely unfair it was that they expected me to actually spend the time to tap all those bloody numbers into the keypad. As for cash? A world where it’s “convenient”, in the Royal Mint’s word, to count out all those pounds and pence, then wait for your change, may exist, but it isn’t this one. Those, such as the Mint, who don’t like the rise of contactless tend to make are two main arguments they make. The first is that it’s vulnerable to fraud. Perhaps, but so are other payment types: there doesn’t seem to have been a sudden surge in drained bank accounts since contactless came in. People may not yet be entirely comfortable using contactless for large payments, but they’re getting more and more so: hence the raising of the limit. The second argument is more sophisticated. It’s that a frictionless economy encourages us to spend money thoughtlessly: that if we’re not handling actual coins and notes then we’ll be freer and easier with how we spend it. There’s something to that, certainly. Research shows that we do spend more when it’s easier to do so. But is that really all that bad? Obviously, people shouldn’t be spending money they don’t have. But the economy does better when we all spend a bit more, which in turn creates the jobs and wealth that give us more to spend in the first place. Plus, can it really be hygienic to be carrying around all these filthy metal discs and grubby bits of paper, covered in their children’s germs or the microscopic fragments of a Friday-night cocaine binge? With all sympathy to the Royal Mint, we know what the future looks like. As I wrote in the Telegraph when the rail authorities decided to scrap paper train tickets, it’s about not just cash but credit cards themselves disappearing – about paying for whatever we like with the wave of a phone or the blink of a biometrically-verified eye. That future is coming sooner than we think – largely because it’s exactly what we want.