You Know What Would Look Great on the $20 Bill? Your Selfie

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
April 10, 2014

Selfie Money from Future of Money on Vimeo.

Cash doesn’t seem to have a particularly bright future — credit cards, digital payments, and even crypto-money alternatives like bitcoin have a lot more currency lately.

But Jonathon Keats has an idea for making physical bills relevant again: Selfie Money.

Here’s the plan (as explained in this video). Basically, the dead political leaders and so on whose visages dominate most paper currencies are boring and out of step with the way we live now. If we’re interested in any particular image nowadays, it’s an image of us.

Thus, imagine an ATM that takes your picture and prints it into cash. Now you can go spend dough on yourself — emblazoned with your selfie.

“Given the strong connection between celebrity and wealth in modern society, selfie money should have little trouble gaining popular acceptance,” Keats writes. “Narcissism will be the new wealth of nations.”

This proposed — and obviously whimsical — scheme just took second place in the most recent Future of Money competition, an annual speculative-design contest underwritten by the payments industry and organized by Consult Hyperion. You can see other winning proposals here.

But I think we can give Keats credit for a priceless insight: Benjamins aren’t cool; Yous are cool.

 Write to me at or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalker. The RSS feed for my columns and posts is right here.