Sunday, 27 March 2016

Cash is still king

The death of cash has often been foretold, but it still seems a very long way off happening. Much the same is true of print publications. The digital age may encroach on the territory of its analogue predecessors, but in many spheres it seems incapable of dealing the final blow.

Mark Wadsworth recently created a poll on people’s use of cash, which I was happy to share as it is a subject relevant to readers of this blog. This helps to explain the large number of respondents. I’ve shared a few other polls with Mark in the past. The results are pretty conclusive – that 96% of respondents use cash at least once a week, and 44% every day. I answered “most days” simply because I don’t necessarily spend any money every single day. The original poll and comments can be seen here.

We are constantly being urged to use credit and debit cards, especially since the introduction of contactless cards, but it seems that cash is proving very resilient. And one of its prime strongholds remains the pub trade. The kind of people who are happy to flash a card in the pub are generally those who don’t really buy many individual drinks.

Personally, I tend to use cash for all routine regular transactions, as it makes it far easier to budget and control my expenditure. I use cards for buying petrol, typically two or three times a month, internet purchases and big-ticket items such as clothes and electronics.

It’s been widely pointed out that using a contactless card rather than cash exposes you to the risk of unwise spending on a night out where your judgment might be impaired by a pint or two.

If you depend entirely on cards, you’re left at the mercy of bank computers, which recent events have shown can all too easily fail. Most of the extensive grey and black economy runs on cash, which isn’t going to disappear overnight. The same is true of most ordinary local pubs, and CAMRA beer festivals. Cash isn’t going anywhere any day soon.

There is also the point that surrendering all control of your cash to banks gives the government the opportunity to control it and, in extremis, confiscate some of it. Keeping some of your money in cash is a good way of safeguarding it.

29 comments:

  1. Clothes? The last time you bought clobber was in old money, fella.

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    1. To be honest, I did contemplate saying that the day Mudgie buys a new jumper from Primark deserves widespread recognition.

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    2. Don't sweat it, fella. The 80s bullseye contestant look rocks. It'll be back in style soon.

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  2. Replies
    1. How many pubs would accept a contactless card for a single pint? Spoons, maybe, but beyond that...

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    2. Single pint costs more than bus rides that people use oyster cards for.

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    3. When you're having a pint you aren't in a rush to get somewhere and you don't bother anybody if you spend 20 seconds fumbling through your wallet.

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  3. Taking cash with you on a boozy night has the potential for losing it though,so that balances the careless spending argument.

    Most pubs in London will accept card payment for any amount now. It's rare that they will have a minimum spend. If they do they usually allow you to set up a tab to overcome this. Around 75% use contactless too. When the card reader is fixed to the bar Spoons style it is quicker than cash. I also find I don't come home with mountains of loose change anymore which is great.

    Cash is dying but I suspect we're still a generation away from retailers refusing cash. Whilst 5 years ago you might have been a bit unusual paying for drinks on card, it's now the other way round. I'm aware London isn't the UK but generally the rest of the UK follows suit in most respects. I carry an emergency £20 in my wallet but it's been there for a good few months now.

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  4. My problem with cashless is keeping track of much you have spent. Now if the card had a small LCD screen indicating how much you had spent since last reset...
    Also the the £30 limit is quite low if you buying a decent round.

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    1. Yes, something like that which you charge up at a cashpoint (or online) and then you can see the reducing balance would make it much easier to track your spending compared with a card that just takes it directly out of your current account.

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    2. There's no limit if you enter your PIN... still faster than cash unless it's a multiple of 5

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  5. Isn't one of the problems that pub landlords are not really the most dynamic customer focused business people?

    It is often a mid life career change and a business ran for the convenience of themselves?

    You would have thought an innovation like the changing nature of "what is money" would have most dynamic small business people on top of it. Far from costing more, cashless cost less.

    To run a cash till you pay for the change you get from banks and you pay to put it in the bank and you pay if you need a security guard. I have a small business account and I pay a fee to pay in a cheque. Electronic transfers are free.

    For a small sum pubs and small shops can buy a cashless handheld terminal with small transaction costs which is cheaper overall than the token system of notes and coins.

    Yet pubs still put fees of card use. Like a small shop keeper putting a charge on cheques or card and moaning because we punters then go buy stuff at the local sainsburys which has no problem with card based small transactions.

    The only reason to keep using cash is a political one. If you think the government are watching what you buy and if you think negative interest rates are possible then you might want to keep cash alive by accepting its higher cost and inconvenience as a personal political act you hope others share. But if you really believe that then why place value in tokens? Why not buy and stash gold coins? Why not also keep dollars or Euros or yen? Maybe a supply of "snout"? Anything you think is a form of money.

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    1. No the reason for using cash over card is that it is self checking and self limiting. If I go out with fifty quid in my pocket I can easily check how much I have left and when it is all gone I stop spending. No politics about that.

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    2. You can place a limit on your contactless card.

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    3. Yes, of course you can, but that's very different to dipping into your back pocket to pay for a round and thinking "Fuck, I'm down to twenty quid!"

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  6. I think contactless payments have changed the playing field somewhat. Someone like me who, prior to their introduction used a card no more than 2 or 3 times a year, now uses it daily. And most of my regular drinking circle do as well. There's also the issue of apps that have replaced cash payments in many restaurants and bars. Not forgetting Uber.

    Never had a problem with paying for just one pint via contactless anywhere. Although I must confess to feeling a little embarrassed the first time. Now though, crisps, nuts etc all get paid with swipe and pay.

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  7. I'm continually having to set tabs up in the pub when I've been caught without cash and am planning on having at least 3 or 4. The nearest cash machine is a fair trek away. Contactless at the bar would be so much more convenient for me. I've been saying for a while now that it should be available on the bar ( something The Dangerman, above, seems to see frequently but I personally never have.) Instead we get people having to type in pins and slowing service right down. Contactless in pubs is definitely a smart future, especially as younger crowds just seem to assume that all pubs will now have card machines so insist on paying for every damn drink with one.

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    1. One of the worst examples of that I've seen was where a group of five had shared a meal which between them came to about £40. They then insisted on each person paying their share separately by card. I was just leaving so didn't see the eventual outcome, but had I been behind the bar I would have been sorely tempted to tell them to bog off.

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    2. There really is no need for that. One app can easily pay the tab and automatically split it. Also depending on the establishment, you can get the bill automatically sent to your phone and paid for/split whilst your getting your coat on.

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  8. There was an article in yesterday's Sunday Times money section entitled Call me a dinosaur, but I'm keeping my passbook (£). In this, he says:

    "When I was a student, going out with only £10 in cash was a good way of exercising control. At 2 am we used to walk home penniless. With a contactless card, I would have been out until 5 am and gone home in a cab."

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    1. How strange. Is this complete lack of any form of self-control or restraint a common feature amongst the older gentleman?

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    2. It isn't a matter of restraint or self control. We older gentlemen tend to have very poor short term memories. I can rarely remember how much I have drunk

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    3. nothing strange about it. Mudge is a notorious piss head. Well known for it. Banned from many pubs.

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  9. Agreed, good write up. I've learned something new this week.

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  10. One interesting thing round here is the introduction of a Oyster-like card (Swift Card) for bus/train/Metro fares, which I got because of the problems of always needing change, especially as fares climb past £4 and I'm usually with my other half. It's been introduced just as London's buses accept debit cards directly...

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  11. In Derbyshire it seems that the introduction of cards for bus travel will coincide with the withdraw of most bus services.

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  12. Only in London and big cities do these twats use cards. Out in the provinces which is most of the country we all use cash. Nice and non traceable !

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  13. Pub i'm at now it costs us more in fees to take cash than cards. Pub i'm setting up, we will have free banking so cards will be the more costly transaction, but i'd rather take them than lose sales. Pubs that charge or have a minimum spend for cards don't have their prices right!

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