No thanks, I’ll stick to cash transactions

I’ll buy in as a senior somewhat by-passed by technology.

No thanks, I’ll stick to cash transactions

By Allan Hewitson

Although I am not a fan of a cashless society, I frequently run around town with my trusty debit card and very little else to jingle in my pockets. But I don’t really like it when I do.

I immediately deleted my bank accounts from my cell phone after temporarily adding them to the device to accept some cash I was owed. Frankly, I have little faith in the safety of data on my phone, although I am becoming more comfortable with internet banking and online purchases on my better-protected laptop.

My son derides me as old-fashioned – but the more I watch people buying groceries or anything else with a tap of a plastic card or a flash of their cell phone, the more my discomfort increases. I’ll buy in as a senior somewhat by-passed by technology.

That’s something I’ve become used to, although my life has revolved around a computer for over 24 years. I know I am “behind the digital times” – even repetitive actions on Facebook give me trouble from time to time. I’m not much of a “liker,” and my memory is often suspect.

But I’ve been doing a little reading over the past few months as more and issues emerge about unexpected consequences of the drive to cashlessness.

This week, for example, the New York Times revealed that in that city, a wide range of urban workers whose income relies on cash tips – people like doormen, hairdressers, bartenders, and waiter staff are being hit hard by the change in the advance of a cashless society.

This seems to be especially so when tips are representative of appreciation for exceptional (or poor) service. Spontaneous small cash tips are considered an essential part of an employee’s wage structure and employers are often slow to respond to this kind of gradual trend as some jobs find themselves left out in the cold in the cashless world.

I do get it that this is nothing new. Money is tech and tech is money. Civilization brought barter and evolved to the development of money, coins of precious and less precious metals, making shells, whales’ teeth and other primitive forms redundant.

The printing press and paper money bumped precious stones and metals into another category.

Jumping ahead, electronic banking put paid to “the cheque in the mail.” Contactless payment is now doing the same to cash, which is becoming less convenient, which doesn’t suit the market. A new commercial shows a guy making a purchase using his watch. I’ll wait till Timex has that feature, thanks.

North Americans and Europeans are leading the charge, despite the example of India to demonetize in an effort to curb counterfeit money caused chaos at banks after the government declared 500 and 1000 rupee currencies worthless overnight.

This, in a country where over 90 per cent of working poor use only cash for 100 per cent of transactions and most are in informal off-the-books jobs or small businesses.

It didn’t go well either in Cyprus or Greece when banks closed on lines of people anxious about their savings.

Earlier this year, an American bank survey showed cash is already “half-way out” with 50 per cent of Americans carrying cash only 50 per cent of the time. I did not realize how close my habits actually are to so many Americans because $20 to $40 seems to be an average, in the survey – my average too – not what most people would expect.

Bulging wallets are that way because of credit cards, not big bills. When a cab ride, coffee, pizza delivery or a beer can be bought with a plastic tap, instead of spare change, it’s really no wonder some workers not as involved in this digital economy might be feeling a cash pinch.

The bank study also showed that when using cash, consumers studied preferred cash to pay for dining (36 percent,) travel/transportation (15 percent), parties (14 percent), and family functions (14 percent).

The Times report quotes one New Yorker who said his tips were down 60 per cent over 2008 when he took his doorman’s job on Park Avenue. Another blamed the changing habits of condo tenants ordering everything from Uber to pizzas.

In some tip jobs the impact is not so bad for waiters, for example, who carry touch-screen debit/credit card tablets which lean to a 20 per cent option or cash tips.

Why do some observers see dangers in a cashless economy – that’s an easy one. If every dollar is on-line it’s traceable online.

ahewitson@telus.net

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Kitimat RCMP are requesting assistance locating 24-year-old Teah Wilken, who was last seen getting on a bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23). Kitimat RCMP Facebook photo.
Kitimat RCMP requesting assistance locating missing woman

Wilken last seen getting on bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23)

Black Press file photo
Moose hit on Hwy 37 S

The collision happened Saturday (Nov. 21) and three people were taken to hospital

<em>Pixabay</em>
All I want for Christmas is…food!

The Kitimat Northern Sentinel wants to publish your holiday recipes

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Most Read