And…How Will You Be Paying?

One of the first things I do every day is head to my neighbourhood coffee shop for an ‘Extra Large’, one cream, two sugar.

On one particular day last week, the typically organized staff looked quite stressed. For a moment, I thought there must be a problem with the coffee…and then got a bit stressed myself.

Technical Difficulties.

As things turned out, the coffee was flowing just fine. The problem was that their digital payment systems were down. And just like that, cash was King again.

When I’m out and about, I always use cash if it’s practical. So, I handed over my money, took my coffee, went on my merry way to caffeinate, and let their IT support deal with the fix.

If you still use cash as frequently as I do, you might experience similar results. With growing regularity, I’m on the receiving end of some strange looks from cashiers. They’re looking at my hard-earned currency as if it were Canadian Tire dollars and chocolate medallions wrapped in gold or silver foil.

Now that I think about it, given the move away from cash, perhaps it’s time to permanently rename the ‘cashier’ role…’Plastician’ kind of has a nice ring to it!

Most people take it for granted that everything is (and should be) going digital…but let’s put aside the convenience factor for a moment. There are some real risks and issues associated with going cashless.

Protecting the ‘Unbanked’.

It’s important to remember that not everyone has access to digital currency.

A very recent NPR article had this to say: “Last fall, [City Councilman Bill] Greenlee introduced a bill outlawing cashless businesses — brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants where customers can only pay with credit and debit cards. Nearly 13 percent of Philadelphia’s population — close to 200,000 people — are unbanked, according to federal banking data.”

The last thing the poor and vulnerable need is to be even further shut out of being able to purchase products and services.

Corporations vs. Government

While the ‘Unbanked’ may prove to be a relatively easy problem to solve, there are others that are far more extensive and risky.

From a recent ‘World Economic Forum’ article: “For hundreds of years, the public has been offered central bank notes and coins. If cash stops working, it would leave all individuals to rely on the private sector alone to get access to money and payment methods. This would be a historical change without precedence. Norway is seeing a similar trend [to Sweden], and the two central banks are cooperating in this area. In the Eurozone, cash is still used to a high degree. The value of the outstanding amount of cash is equivalent to 10% of the Eurozone GDP, versus the Swedish equivalent of only 1%.”

Do we truly want to keep increasing our reliance on for-profit Corporations for access to our currency?

Technology Risk.

As with previous blog posts, and the upcoming Emerston business, one of the primary areas of focus is the intertwining of, and improved relationship between, Technology and Quality of Life.

As our technology network grows, including payment/communication protocols, we open ourselves up to new and growing risks…risks we haven’t even begun to think through.

If we were to hit a significant enough failure point (whether by defect, accident, or sabotage), the resulting impacts are difficult to predict (but easy to understate).

There seems to be an incessant societal drive to purchase more and purchase faster, with decreasing attention to WHAT we are buying, and WHY we are buying it. There is a very real, very massive cost of convenience…and like most expenditures, we either pay a little more now, or a whole lot more later.

Let’s continue to move forward, but do so with more thought and intention.

References

Please join me each week for experiences, observations, and thoughts related to our upcoming project launch. Your likes, comments, and shares are very much appreciated…and thanks for taking the time to stop by! Nigel Oliveira  Nigel’s LinkedIn Profile

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