How many of you ever wondered why we continue to use dollar bills and coins when we have credit and debit cards that make cash virtually obsolete?
I for one have long abandoned cash in lieu of the ease of use, convenience, orderliness of receiving monthly statements and paying electronically, and the cleanliness of not having to carry and handle the cold hard stuff.
Not that I am complaining about money at a time of recession, but seriously why do we not go dollar-digital in the “digital age”?
Before debit cards, I understood that some people unfortunately have difficulty getting the plastic because of credit issues. But now with debit cards, everyone can shop and pay digitally.
Even government run programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP aka food stamps) now uses an electronic card for purchasing no money paper stamps.
It seems that credit/debit card readers are pretty much ubiquitous—stores of course, online—it’s the way to go, even on the trains/buses and candy machines.
From the taxman perspective, I would imagine it is also better and more equitable to track genuine sales transactions in a documented digital fashion than enabling funny “cash business.”
So why don’t we go paperless and coinless and fully adopt e-Commerce?
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, 11 Sept. 2009, described a trendy NYC restaurant that was doing just that.
“The high-end New York City restaurant said goodbye to dollars: Tip in cash if you like but otherwise, your money is no good here.”
Others have been going cashless for some time now.
“In the world of online and catalog retailing, credit and debit cards have long been king. And in recent years, a handful of airlines have adopted ‘cashless cabins.’”
As the NYC restaurant owner said, “Suddenly, it struck me how unnecessary cash was…[moreover,] the convenience and security of going cashless are well worth the added cost.”
Further, from the customer perspective, using a debit or credit card lets users optimize their cash flow and earn reward points.
I believe that the day is coming when bites and bytes are going to win over paper and coins.
This is going to happen, when the IRS requires it, the government stops printing it because it always has (i.e. inertia), when retailers recognize that the benefits of digital money outweigh the fees, and when resistance to change is defeated by common sense of modernization.