When I went shopping the other day there were a number of young girls at the cash registers bagging people’s groceries. They were raising money for their dance troupe and expecting donations. It occurred to me that not many people actually carry cash around anymore. How did this affect their fundraising efforts?

I wonder if there’s been a noticeable decrease in donations received from such charities as Remembrance Day poppy sales and the Salvation Army Christmas kettles now that people have fewer coins and bills in their pockets. I used to regularly toss my loose change into those little plastic boxes at many store checkout counters.

Related: What’s in your wallet?

Consumers are making less use of cash, while the use of electronic payment methods continues to increase.

“I don’t carry cash on me”

Credit and debit cards are continuously evolving, presumably for security reasons, but it’s becoming almost effortless to pay for your purchases.

With “Tap-and-go” cards there’s no longer the need to enter (and memorize) a PIN or sign for your purchases.

With Visa PayWave and MasterCard PayPass contactless cards you don’t need to tap anymore – just wave your card in front of the terminal.

We won’t even have to carry all those pesky cards with Virtual wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet (not yet available in Canada). You load all your debit and credit cards onto your phone (or Apple Watch), and then simply hold it near a contactless reader and pay by pressing “Touch ID.”

Related: In defense of smallenfreuden

The Royal Bank has started a pilot project using a wristband, which maps the pattern of your heartbeat for identification when making payments. Surprisingly my 85-year-old mother seemed quite intrigued by this payment method. She’s going to ask for a wristband next time she goes to the bank.

(My husband’s cardiologist is attempting to regulate his heartbeat. I wonder if he’d have to have his wristband recalibrated each time he changes his medication.)

Is your spending in a database?

Every payment with credit and debit cards and payment systems like PayPal and Western Union is instantly monitored and placed in a data base and made available not only to retailers, but also the government and to countless spammers who will use that information. There are some people who are quite paranoid about a means of exchange that is always traceable.

Related: Email money transfers – A convenient way to send cash

Cash is the only payment method that’s anonymous and untraceable, which is no doubt why it’s favoured by “under the table” contractors and drug dealers.

Cash is still necessary

There’s no question that a lot of people have trouble keeping track of their finances, especially without cash money. People learning to budget use the “envelope system,” and Gail Vaz-Oxlade is famous for advocating the cash jar method of budgeting and controlling finances.

Although many deny it, research has shown that people spend more when using debit and credit cards.

Children learn about money with coins and bills.

Cash is still a necessary form of payment at farmer’s markets, garage sales and lemonade stands, not to mention buskers and panhandlers. You still need it for some vending machines and bus fare.

Related: Why cheques won’t disappear anytime soon

It’s good advice to stash a couple of hundred dollars in cash at home in case of a disaster, or your ATM crashes.

Final thoughts

Are we heading towards a cashless society?

Not necessarily anytime soon. Rather, we will be a society that carries less cash. Cash may no longer be king, but it’s not obsolete yet.


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