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In June, the toy company Hasbro announced a significant update to its classic board game Monopoly. In the 2019 version, physical cash is being replaced by voice-activated banking, a move that reflects some big trends from the world of commerce.
While most of our entertainment consumption is moving online, physical board games are actually more popular than ever. The trend has been fueled, in part, by a surge in new crowd-funded games but many classic games also remain popular.
One such classic is Monopoly. The game was first released in the 1930’s and since then it has taught generations of players about the joy and despair of playing the real estate market. And while the basics of the game have remained fairly unchanged over the decades, the manufacturer recently announced a pretty significant change to the 2019 version of the game: paper cash is now being replaced by voice-activated banking.
The 2019 version is actually not the first attempt to replace paper cash in Monopoly. Back in 2016, for example, Hasbro launched a version where the paper cash was replaced by digital payment cards. According to the company, this change was done to “reflect how many of today's financial transactions are happening without cash”. But many also pointed out that the switch to digital money helped prevent the often rampant cheating that Monopoly’s paper money enabled. This use of cash, as a means to break the rules, is also reflected in the real world, as law enforcement agencies around the world can attest.
And Monopoly is now taking the next step in its cashless experience. In the 2019 edition, all the money, transactions and properties are being handled by a voice-activated bank. To buy a property or pay rent, you simply push a button and tell the bank what you want to do. The bank then keeps track of the money.
This change in the game isn’t just a fun use of new technology, it also highlights a growing trend in commerce. Smart voice assistants, like Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, are becoming increasingly popular and Google and Walmart have recently announced that they will offer voice-activated grocery shopping, something that Amazon Alexa also offers. According to a report from the firm Juniper research voice-activated shopping is expected to be worth over $80 billion in 2023, as people let their voice assistants handle more of their online credit card purchases.
Time will tell if this Monopoly vision of the future turns out to be accurate. What is clear, however, is that it reflects a growing belief that cashless and voice-controlled shopping will continue to rise in the coming years. And if you start to miss the joy of cheating in the game, Hasbro actually offers a cheaters edition of Monopoly