If we’re coming towards the end of cash, how are some of us going to be able to pay for things?

A few times this past week I’ve given some people some money, like so many of us do. A few pound coins usually or, less usually, a note where I judge a note might be needed. I know there are bossy types around who’ll say this is doing some people no favours. But I give money to other adult humans where I decide it’s needed. Not being entirely sure how this judging of whether to give or not is done, only that I’m doing the judging and I’m free to do so. It’s my cash after all and, besides, I’ve never had any time for doing what bossy people tell me to do.

But what will I do if we’re coming to the end of cash? How will I give people a few quid?

Then another couple of times this past few days I’ve gone to pay small amounts for things, in a café and a shop, where they didn’t have much change and it was easier for them if I did that contactless thing with my debit card, like I noticed most others in their queues were doing. And these weren’t big corporates either, both of them just your typical local independent businesses I so often write about.

Businesses who don’t much deal in cash any more.

So if we’re coming to the end of cash, and it seems we are, how are some people going to be able to pay for things?

Because I’m reasonably ok, thanks very much. Most likely you are too? We’ve got some kind of income, live somewhere, and so some institutions in our economy have decided we can have bank accounts, together with the cards and privileges that go with them.

But what if we didn’t? Didn’t have these things? What if you were living below the radar where the economy, whoever that is, has sufficient confidence in us to award us its confidence. Its confidence in the shape of those little plastic cards to get by on?

How would we live? How would you pay for things?

At the moment we’d be just about ok with cash. But what if it were soon? And I was sat on the street? And no one could give me cash? Or give me the confidence of a card to pay for things? How could I live? In my day by day version of the economy, how would I get to the next morning?

If we’re coming to the end of the cash economy then, are we in danger of giving too much control to the bossy people I’ve mentioned? To the likes of those controlling the decisions of the DWP and the Home Office, to the ones who think the hard to do should be swept from the streets? To the likes of those telling us we shouldn’t be giving cash to those who ask us for it?

Have we thought this through?

Just a thought, since we seem to be approaching the end of cash.

Published by Ronnie Hughes

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

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6 Comments

  1. Sweden is virtually cashless but people on the streets receive money via smartphone payments, it might not work for everyone but it appears to be a solution.

    1. Hi Cliff, this sounds good, but I suspect you’re right about it not working for everyone. Everyone who can’t afford a smart phone? Anyone who fails to be approved by the controllers of the payments and is therefore likely to be desperate?

  2. Hi Ronnie
    As a small business person this has been an issue I’ve been considering more and more lately. Being a bit old school I tend to use my card only for large payments and handle the small day to day expenses in cash. I was a bit staggered when a middle aged guy at the weekend wanted to buy a packet of crisps with a card – he had no cash and says he now doesn’t carry any.

    My payment processor won’t accept payment by card for less than £1 – I think most do. So will all items increase to cost the £1 minimum? Also my card provider charges 2% for processing payments. A charge that I inevitably pass on to customers – so it may be convenient for some but it is causing an overall price hike for everyone. But apart from the cost implications it is easier for me as a small business – don’t have to keep lots of change, don’t have to worry about someone helping themselves to cash from the till, or robberies. But it concerns me that by stealth and without discussion we are walking into a cashless economy that we don’t realise that we are paying for and have not considered all of the implications like the impact on the poorest and excluded from society.

    Janet

    1. Hi Janet,
      Yes, I was surprised when I turned up here at university and found I was definitely old school, fishing around in my wallet for cash while all these young people were doing contactless payments on cards or even phones. I felt very 20th century and, eventually, it made me think. And you’re right, it’s monetising (horrible word), it’s ‘by stealth and without discussion’ as ever, and it’s yet another way of dividing us into haves and have nots. And we haven’t thought it through.

  3. I’ve been feeling the same, wondering if this is the end of all “informal” exchanges. Imagine asking your dad to swipe his card across your phone to give you pocket money (maybe it’s all a Direct Debit these days). No more grans giving a 5 year old 50p to get some sweets. No more off the cuff generosity to friends or strangers. No more cash in hand… ;-) No more finding 20p on the pavement!
    Plus now I hear cash machines are more likely to charge a fee in future, and banks (most likely location of free machines) are closing all the time. All money is suddenly becoming more expensive. And also, recorded. Everything I buy without cash is recorded and aggregated, no doubt generating more income for someone along the line who can sell my data to advertisers.
    Like your other commenters I feel we’re sleepwalking into giving more of ourselves away, and paying for the privilege.

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