Some of you movie buffs would have heard of the movie – In Time. A 2011 sci-fi movie starring Justin Timberlake (he should stick to singing) and Amanda Seyfried. In Time is set in a distant future with Justin Timberlake playing the protagonist, Will Salas. The story starts in the year 2169 to be precise, where time is money (yes, literally money). The time you have at your disposal keeps you alive and pays for your meals at the same time… You are dead if you run out of it. People born in that movie are genetically engineered to have a ticking digital countdown timer in their forearms. These clocks start once an individual attains the age of 25. It displays how much time each individual possesses and keep reducing as each second passes. Food on the supermarket shelves have price tags or rather time tags on them. Paying for things is really easy and scary at the same time. Just like the present day NFC POS reader, all you have to do is swipe your wrist against a reader and the bill gets deducted from your time. Thankfully, time can be refilled at time-banks; otherwise, everyone (at least most of them) would have dropped dead before the movie ended.
Now, that is a disturbing version of the future depicted by the movie. But, few things shown in that movie (except for the scary concept of time is money and vice-versa) is a lot closer to becoming a reality than you expect. Let us take a look at the current scenario. Digital currency is gradually gaining ground across the world. There are already calls for governments to adopt digital currencies, based on bitcoin technology to pave the way for a paperless economy. There are inherent benefits of going digital, starting from fast, easier transactions to more accountability over funds.
As we move towards a digital economy, many things depicted in the movie “In Time” will hold good with respect to money. In near future, it will be possible for every individual to be assigned a digital wallet, something similar to existing social security number. This wallet can be connected to the person’s bank account, government welfare schemes and services, medical services etc. This wallet number can be assigned to people at birth and it can be one single piece of information necessary for them to access all information. NFC enabled smartwatches will make it increase the similarities between future in reality and future depicted in fiction.
The future with digital currency as mainstream doesn’t need banks with branches across the state or country. A machine similar to present day ATM machines should be able to do everything a bank does these days. To ensure that someone doesn’t steal all your money (like the way minutemen steal time in the movie) you can have excess funds saved in a bank or in this case a cold storage, cut off from your front wallet.
Even though, the makers of the movie, In Time have taken creative liberty to twist and turn the already used concept of an economy based on time and penalty of being poor is early death (not from natural causes). But parallels can be drawn between the movie’s storyline and future with digital currency.