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Hold on to cash, cashless is a slippery slope!

calendar iconJan 23, 2020

In December 2019, BBC Future reporter Lu-Hai Liang explored one of the dark corners of digital payments and the consequences of cashless overhype.

If you love using cash and are teased for your "old-fashioned ways", you're not alone and you're not wrong to hold on to your trusty cash. Reporter Liang explores the cultural division in payment habits, asking, "Are we wise to keep our cash? Or are we simply stuck in the past?".

Just as Professor Drazen Prelec's explains the problem with using credit cards, “When you’re consuming, you’re not thinking about the payments, and when you’re paying, you don’t know what you’re paying for", Liang observes a similar issue with cashless overhype.

“When you’re consuming, you’re not thinking about the payments, and when you’re paying, you don’t know what you’re paying for."

Online accounts and mobile wallets have indeed transformed the shopping experience with an option that increases the pleasure of shopping and decreases the pain of paying. The problem, is that the separation between the two feelings makes it too easy to spend and too easy to avoid looking at your total balance.

Excerpt from BBC Future (Jul 2015)

"Physical money has been with us for thousands of years for a reason. Cash is essentially untraceable, it’s easy to carry, it’s widely accepted and it’s reliable. If the power goes out, or there’s a blip in the electronic systems that make the online commerce world go round, cash is there. If someone wants to buy something without anybody tracing it back to her, cash is the way to do it. If someone wants to be certain that their form of payment will be accepted, cash is the best bet."

"Even with advances in technology, some of the aspects of cash simply aren’t reproducible with bits just yet."
"Rose EvelethBBC Future (Jul 24, 2015)

The reality is, e-payments don't always work whereas cash is universally accepted in an instant. Without it, the public would find themselves at the mercy of a digital infrastructure that breaks down easily and often without notice. To ensure a resilient payments landscape, it is fundamental to keep cash an option.

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Last Updated: Mar 26, 2020

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