Society is seemingly trapped in amber — frozen in place by the coronavirus. But really we’re speeding ever faster towards a technological future. Changes that would have occurred over the course of years are happening in weeks. The global pandemic is an accelerant, thrown on the flames of progress and calling to mind the famous Lenin quote: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

In the US, germ-phobic shoppers are finally embracing contactless payments. For a decade, the fragmented American retail industry had resisted new payment technologies that have spread across Europe and Asia. But as people worry about catching the coronavirus by handling cash or touching the keys on a touchpad, systems that allow shoppers to tap their cards or smartphones on credit card terminals are grabbing a larger share of transactions. Grocery chains such as Publix are speeding up the roll-out of contactless terminals and the introduction of services s...

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