Can We Live in a Paperless Society?

We used to believe that paper would never die, books would be forever. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to live in a paperless society, not just in a world of connectivity (mobile), but consider what’s coming:


The internet of things, 5G mobile smart phones by 2020 or sooner. Digital receipts integrated with mobile coupons. In some ways even VR, AR and Mixed reality has the potential to further immerse us in digital paradigms, away from the written word on paper, largely replacing the repetitive activities of social media.

The analog will be replaced by the quantum. Digital is a connective tissue that is self-evolving.

The Trends Leading to a Paperless Society are Accelerating

  • Print media is dying or already dead.
  • The data in paper receipts is too valuable for shopper tracking not to go digital.
  • IoT will scale AI in our connectivity, at unprecedented rates. (e.g. voice search, chatbots)
  • Video is gaining momentum making a lot of written content obsolete (for increased mobile engagement)
  • Social media itself has gone from article publishing to visual marketing and “snap” content. (with declining attention spans).
  • Video consumption is at an all-time high. Netflix is predicted to become a major company.
  • Omnichannel retail will continue to digitize the store of the future.

When we look at the state of “free speech” and information, even trust levels in mainstream media are at epic unprecedented lows.

We Can Live in a Paperless Society

At the rate of mobile payment adoption, requiring no cash and no exchange of paper money, by the 2020s, our spending habits will have completely changed. Carrying cash and “money” will become the minority.

New technologies are transforming the financial services, in such a way that scales to the emergence of a paperless society.

Chatbots will soon revolutionize customer service, as early as 2017, and digital banking is never easier. There are even digital receipt solutions for mobile banking.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and others in fact profit from these trends, where the media has irrevocably been altered by digital in just a few decades or less.

Indeed voice search from home, is a likely disrupter of the discovery journey for products as consumers now shop directly from marketplace search (i.e.Amazon) instead of Google.

In the information age proper, data, analytics and connected devices are everywhere.

Paper, once responsible for the annihilation of much of the world’s forests, will itself one day go extinct.

More Instantaneous Ubiquity of Interactions via Digital

We now:

  • Pay without cash
  • File our taxes electronically
  • Look up our health records electronically
  • Send mail and communicate digitally (Email, SMS, text messages)
  • Read digital content (media online, social media, streaming)
  • Collect digital receipts on our smartphones
  • Go to school and take courses online in virtual classrooms.

Digital Immersion

It’s hard to even track the rate at which as a society we have become immersed in digital. Watching people in our urban cities and their addiction to their mobile devices is staggering, and one wonders where exactly this is leading.

Whether we think it’s good or bad is irrelevant, the most powerful companies in the world; technologies companies, are profiting from these trends and are building even more data-rich ecosystems where digital becomes increasingly:

  • Immersive
  • Paperless
  • Instantaneous
  • The New Paradigm
What do you think? Is print media, cash and paper disappearing from society for good? What’s the next stage of this trend in your field?