I increasingly never carry cash on me. I just never think to take out money and, when I do, I hate paying for things and getting change back. That change just ends up in a “change jar” in my apartment and then never comes out ever again. I keep telling myself that I need to buy coin rolls but that never seems to happen.
Lucky for me, it’s pretty clear that many cities and countries are quickly headed towards a cashless society. It’s pretty easy to get by in most cities today without cash. Here in Toronto, I use Uber and my PRESTO card to get around. I can use my phone for many purchases like coffee. And I can use my credit/debit cards for everything else. I never really thought about it until recently, but I have unintentionally gone almost completely cashless.
But of course it’s not just cash that is going to disappear; it’s also our physical wallets. Just this week Fred Wilson wrote a post on his blog about how he forgot his wallet at home and how Apple Pay came to the rescue at Whole Foods. I can’t wait until more banks roll this out in Canada. It’s also encouraging to see that under “coming soon” on the Apple Pay website, the Toronto Transit Commission is listed. I guess that means it will be integrated with PRESTO.
However, this transition is not happening in the same way everywhere. There are many countries that still prefer cash. According to CNN (November 2015), only about 10% of people in Indonesia and the Philippines would prefer to pay with a credit card. And it’s for this reason that Uber now accepts cash in a number of countries. It’s what those customers wanted. I find this interesting though, because not having to carry cash is one of the main reasons I use Uber.
Of course, there’s also the question of what happens to people who are currently not connected in anyway to electronic forms of money. I get asked by people on the street for change at least every day when I walk around Toronto. But there is actually no way for me to transmit the money I have to them. I don’t carry cash and I certainly don’t carry change.
I would be curious how many of you have gone or are close to going cashless. And if you are operating cashless, did you even notice the transition happening?