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Monopoly goes cashless

By Claes Bell ·
Friday, February 19, 2016
Posted: 1 pm ET

In a sign of the times, Hasbro, maker of the classic board game Monopoly, will soon introduce a cash-free version of the game.

"Monopoly Ultimate Banking Game," which was on display at the 2016 Toy Fair in New York, doesn't have the familiar, multicolored "Monopoly money" that so many of us grew up with. Instead, each player gets a debit-like bank card that they tap on an "ultimate banking unit" to purchase properties or charge other players rent.

Decline of cash, game-ified

Ultimately, the new system uses cards rather than cash for the same reason consumers do in real life -- to speed up transactions, cut out the math and make it harder to steal money from other players. (I don't think it was a coincidence that the banker seemed to have a much better-than-average chance to win when we were kids.) The card also allows for introducing some interesting wrinkles in the game, such as fluctuating rents and property values.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Of course, it goes without saying that Hasbro will continue to produce versions of the game with paper money. But the fact that a game so identified with paper money is going cashless at all seems to speak to a general decline in the importance of cash in the U.S.

A lot of people, myself included, have learned a lot about how paper money works from playing Monopoly with friends and family. That Hasbro thinks that a version of the game without paper money would appeal to gift-givers suggests that it believes consumers no longer value that aspect of the game.

What do you think? Would you buy a version of Monopoly without cash?

Follow me on Twitter: @claesbell.

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