I’ve written about digital wallets and my complete disdain for writing old-fashioned checks. Living around a major city like New York one might think that digital natives (i.e. Millennials) are living life without ever having to pull out greenbacks and silver. Debit cards, credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Square, Venmo and a host of platform names that I am not even including show that the possibilities of a cashless life are right around the corner. Maybe there are a few that can go cashless and checkless, but for most of us it’s just not truly possible.
So far for the month of April I’ve made every effort to NOT use cash. I started with $37 (full disclosure that this effort came about because I was too lazy to go to an ATM). In the 13th day of the month I now have $22.13. Close to cashless, but for me it was not possible.
On hating writing checks: To start the month I participated in an all-day in person baseball fantasy draft on April 1 (a Saturday). The league is made up of men of various ages (women are welcome but to this point have declined to participate), but the protocol for payment to our league ‘Commissioner’ is a paper check. It’s possible that cash would be accepted but who carries a wad of cash these days? I asked about Venmo. The Millennials all laughed and the Baby Boomers seemed unaware.
Then in my endeavor to go cashless I used a credit card to pay for everything. That’s hardly unusual as there are many people that do the same. But even in a major city like New York I had three occasions where I was unable to use my credit card.
#1 – The deli on east 45th Street that has a policy of no credit cards for under $7.00. Believe it or not my egg sandwich was $3.87. Had to dig out the cash and then had change jingling in my pocket all day.
#2 – Street food vendor. They don’t have Square or any other kind of credit card processor. $ 7.00. (No change was a bonus).
#3 – Toll Booth to Atlantic Beach. This was surprising. Not only that there were Toll Booth operators (why they are called operators is beyond me), but they had lanes for pass payments that did not include what I thought to be the omnipresent EZ-Pass. I asked the ‘operator’ if this was a topic of conversation and he smiled wryly and said, “sometime over a bottle of Schnapps I will tell you about it.” $2.00 each way.
The truth is that as yet, in the United States at least, we are not even close to having a true cashless society. Can we really expect kids operating a lemonade stand to have a credit card processor or Square account? That would be more likely for a high school car wash however.
There are also inherent costs on merchants to adopt cashless technologies. All that can be said to them is sorry and perhaps people will buy more if they go cashless?
Cash has been around for thousands of years. To think that there’s some near future that would not require any currency is hard for someone of my age to fathom. Bitcoin and other Blockchain payment systems are slowly becoming more popular but it remains to be seen which of the platforms will endure.
There is a certain amount of chance in my personal experience. Admittedly it’s possible that I could have gone the whole month and been able to avoid using cash had I walked or driven to different places.
Of course there’s the anonymity of cash. Many would consider that to be an asset unto itself. Cash is untraceable right? Until it’s not. I’ve seen it in the movies.
How long do you think it will take for a cashless and checkless world to take hold?