Future Forum | Bank of England

Young people's views on the future of money - from The Economist Educational Foundation

This post shares ideas on future alternatives to cash, from 9 to 14-year-olds involved in a project run by The Economist Educational Foundation. The Foundation is an independent charity that was set up from inside The Economist newspaper, and there is more information about us at the bottom of the post for anyone keen to know more.

During November and December 2018, the Foundation is supporting schools across the UK to discuss the financial system ten years after the crisis. To get the conversation started, we asked primary and secondary school pupils for their ideas on alternatives to cash. We're delighted to share some of the imaginative, thought-provoking responses here!

Michael Faraday Primary school suggested books as a new currency, which we think raises interesting questions about value - which books would be worth the most?

"I think we should use them because once you trade them with someone you can read it and learn lots of knowledge and words you didn't know before, then you can swap them for new ones and learn even more!"

Hornsey School for Girls were interested in tech and biotech solutions:

"I believe a central cryptocurrency that is state-controlled by governments and banks will be most effective."

"My currency is DNAPay. We could use our DNA to pay for things. As we all have different DNA and genetics, criminals will not be able to forge our DNA and DNA currency. To acquire the DNA all you will have to do is spit into a tube and let the seller examine it or a simple fingerprint scan."

Bruche primary school thought people could increase their wealth by having a positive social impact:

"Maybe we could use something called house points,every time we do something nice for are community then we get points,but the points aren’t going to be easy to get. If we use house points then it will make the community (city) and the world better place."

Ormiston Bushfield Academy thought we could trade on trustworthiness, which we thought was a fascinating (and topical) idea:

"I think that instead of paying with an object when you go to buy some things for your shopping or to buy a phone etc., they should ask you a question like this:
If you were having a nice day out on the beach and you saw someone about to get eaten by a shark, would you save them? People could be cheeky and lie and say yes when they would actually run away in this situation. The government have already thought about that. In the shops they will still have the machines that you put your credit cards in, but they do a different job. They are lie detectors.The only thing you need to buy anything you want is... honesty."

...But another pupil at the same school made an interesting point about this idea:

"Personally I believe that the idea of using currencies of kindness and honesty to pay for things is ignorant, mindless and juvenile; while it could always be a area of imagination to fantasy upon it could never be applicable to the real world. My reason for stating this is as follows: if there happened to be a circumstance of discrimination, prejudice or racism (which in my opinion there will always be some form of) victims might be exploited and discredited for there efforts and not receive/submit the due amount."

Finally, we couldn't resist sharing this brilliant piece of storytelling from Streatham Wells Primary school:

“‘Okay, so that adds up to five center metres of gold thread, two pieces of magenta silk and two wooden buttons’ slurred the shopkeeper in a southern drawl. I fished them out of my deep pockets and pulled the shining thread from my waist belt. I had many different colours hanging from spools on my belt but the gold was by far my favourite. I also disliked giving the shop keeper my silks, they were lush and floaty and i loved the soft feeling they made on my fingers. While i thought, the shopkeeper bagged my purchases, the bread, the ham, the smoothie, the butter and the green and crisp iceberg lettuce as well as a few others. Ever since the government stopped using old money, we started to use buttons, silk and other cloth, and sometimes even ribbons. It is quite fun though, with all the different materials we use. 
‘Are you going to buy my cheese or not madam!’ a deep voice interrupted my thinking ‘it only costs two polkadot buttons a slice,’ i replied in a sorry voice, he had, after all, been waiting quite a long time! ‘I'm coming!’”


Our mission is to tackle inequality by giving disadvantaged young people the skills to think for themselves about current affairs. We do this by enabling inspiring discussions about the news in state schools.

These discussions matter. They’re a powerful way for young people to develop knowledge, critical thinking and literacy skills, and confidence. Those attributes are essential for understanding the world in the face of misinformation or polarised debates in the media. They are also crucial for succeeding in school and beyond in the modern world. It has never been so important to ensure that all young people have chance to have these conversations at school.

See more young people's views on the financial system at www.BurnetNewsClub.com until the end of 2018. Or visit www.EconomistFoundation.org to download a free package of news content and teaching resources about the financial crisis, produced by the Foundation and supported by the Bank of England.

edited on Nov 9, 2018 by The Economist Educational Foundation

Ann (B of E moderator) 3 months ago

Thank you for sharing this information, it's great to hear such innovative ideas from young people

The Economist Educational Foundation 3 months ago

Really pleased you enjoyed reading their ideas, Ann! There were so many fascinating ones to choose from when we wrote this...

Ann (B of E moderator) 3 months ago

Yes I am sure there were. Children have an amazing way of engaging in these topics. We have seen this in our students' film competition. You can see some of the winning films on our webpage - https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/com...era-action-2018

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Ratidzo (BoE Moderator) 3 months ago

Thank you The Economist Educational Foundation for these interesting suggestions on alternatives to cash. I'm not sure how I would feel about having to examine spit all day, but I really like the idea of paying in honesty. Imagine how many millionaires there would be in the world! I would encourage you to join our online session next week with Dave Ramsden. Hornsey School might like to ask him what the Bank's thoughts are on cryptocurrencies. Please keep these fantastic ideas coming!

Shelley (BoE Moderator) 3 months ago

I really love the 'Bruche primary school' option. They actually are doing something similar in China at the moment about points - for example, you can loose points if something you do is reported tot he police, and then earn points if you do something for the community.

The Economist Educational Foundation 3 months ago

Yes! There's also a very bleak episode of Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror' based on that idea,

Shelley (BoE Moderator) 3 months ago

Ahh yes! That was a scary episode!

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Believing CBDC 3 months ago

Proven again kids say the darndest things!

Stefanie (BoE Moderator) 3 months ago

I love the thought that went into the ideas - children are just so aware of the wider issues in society and I don't think we always realise how much they take in!

Believing CBDC 3 months ago

Indeed! It's good to see how engaging & imaginative the next generation has exhibited. Surprised to see some rather keen observations. And wow there is definitely great writing talent upcoming there!..

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Ivoni Mataj 3 months ago

Symbolic meaning of Money!

It is very interesting to read these ideas. They all have a common theme - children's alternative to cash still have a symbolic meaning. Whereas us Adults refer to cash alternatives from utility perspective and how these could make our lives easier.

The Economist Educational Foundation 3 months ago

We thought it was interesting that lots of their ideas were about ways to trade that would make society fairer, rather than maximising convenience.

Ivoni Mataj 3 months ago

Really interesting indeed!

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Neelu 3 months ago

Young folks many thanks for sharing your cutting edge ideas! Philantho-finance innovation sounds really interesting! DNAp/finger print idea, India currently uses a single source of truth - Aadhar card (national identity card) mandatory for all citizens of the country - an idea in making is that sharing the card number with finger prints at merchant store would be used to finance transactions instead of needing to use cash!

Dave Ramsden 3 months ago

This is a great initiative, and I am inspired to see young people so engaged in this conversation. This post as well as my regular visits to schools across the country make me realise how important financial education is for school children of all ages. It's also incredibly important for policy makers to understand how innovation and technology might impact the landscape and people's behaviours. The Bank of England took part in an event hosted by the Money Advice Service this week, as a part of their Talk Money Week. This event bought together a group of school leavers and organisations that work with them to discuss topics like this. It was a great event and I look forward to seeing how this conversation develops in the coming months and years.

David Fagleman 2 months ago

Wow these responses are amazing! I recently spoke to a group of year 11-13 students (16-18 year olds) about money and asked them the same question, 'what could money be in the future?'. One studnet said trees, another said oil. Perhaps as they were older their thinking was a bit more practical!

Amy Buckingham 1 month ago

This idea has been advanced to the current phase