Cash is king, or is it? As a general consensus in the room, everyone grew up using cash as a medium to make a purchase. Almost everyone does online shopping too with?their credit cards, yet few of us use Cashless methods to do our day to day purchase in Singapore. . With the onset of technology and a seemingly endless plethora of payment methods, might hard Cash make an exit sometime soon?
The discussion seeks to map out the inherent qualities of Cash as a medium of transaction versus its other counterpart Cashless Payments.
First to disambiguate the two parameters in this topic of discussion.
- Utility is defined as an object’s defined practical use and irrefutable function it serves. Typically, the object’s physical quality?helps define what it might be used for, hence its Utility.
- Pleasurability?is a lesser known term?to describe an object’s emotive qualities and is typically defined qualitatively, by feel, gut or consensus. Does the use of the object or function induces any positive emotion? If you feel joy, anticipation, excitement or fascination, the object has a discernible?level of Pleasurability.
What is it?
- Physical money we stuff into our wallets and pockets. Comes in various denomination of paper notes, and coins.
- Universal. It is widely?accepted in Singapore, especially in Hawker Centres, Wet Markets, Public Toilets, Shopping Trolleys, and physical locations.
- Understood. The most basic and primitive of payment in today’s modern world, you do not have to explain its value or use at all.
- Instant. It is immediately recognised, “authenticated” and accepted as a mode of payment.
- Visible. You know it visually when you have paid, or have been paid. The payment transfer can be easily verified when the cash lands in your wallet, or mine.
- Battery-less. You do not have to worry if your mobile device runs out of juice when you need to pay for something. Cash simply sticks around.
- Physically Managed. “I can track my money better that is in my wallet with a quick glance. If it is emptying too fast, I’m spending way too much.”
- Sense of Wealth. “I feel rich when I have a lot of notes in my fat wallet.”
- Collector’s Artefact. Cash Notes with certain meaningful serial number or sequence have value in people’s mind. An artwork that grows in value with time.
- Upholding Tradition. Giving Ang Pao or Red Packets with Cash is seen as more sincere and as part of social norm.
- Showiness. One might desire “The Look” of using large denomination Cash as a form to establish?social standing.
What is it?
- Cards: Any type really, credit, debit, with various payment gateways or schemes
E.g. EZ-Link, Kopitiam Card, MasterCard, Visa, NETS etc. or anything that accepts magnetic stripes / NFC?
- Digital: Anything that?requires a personal device, internet connection and some form of authentication
E.g. Bitcoin, PayPal, iBanking, WeChat Pay, Apple/Android Pay
- Physical: ATMs and various banking facilities / bank tellers
- Weightless, or negligible weight. Digital payment methods do not contribute to your wallet size. You can make large amounts of payment without having to lug around bags of cash.
- Absolute Figures. You will never get?change!
- Skipping ATM Queues. Cashless payments reduce the need to withdraw hard money at the ATM.
- Safe of Mind. Cards are perceived as a safer way to transact as there are safety protocols by the banks involved.
- Remote. Digital payments allow you to make a transaction regardless of physical location.
- Always Available. Online shopping and payment are made accessible 24/7 without the need for staff presence.
- Accountable. Most Cashless transactions today can be tracked.
- Sense of Security. Biometric authentication is safer than cards (for those who trust and believe it anyway)
- Hygiene. Unlike Hard Cash that has been to places you do not want to know, Cashless payment methods are uniquely yours and owned.
- Well-assisted/Digital Butler. Some digital payment services provide extra features in helping you chase for payments, among other things.
- Status Symbol. “Is that an AMEX Centurion Black Card? Well well, hello there!”
- Empowerment. Cards represent you from a lifestyle perspective, rewarding you with cashback or rebates. “I know I can afford this, hence I will.”
- Frictionless. “I care about getting my service/product. I care less about how I go about making that transaction happened. It should be invisible and unobtrusive.”
- Invisible. “I will not see the money disappearing when I swiped my card. You simply go shopping and enjoy the retail therapy!”
The beauty of human ingenuity is that we will never know exactly the limits in the ways we can make payments. Suggested future methods include gestural authentication at point of sales where a wink or smile allows a transaction to complete without cards or personal devices. Bartering might make a comeback in the sharing economy where we transact with or without cash.
Meanwhile, it seems like hard Cash will likely be?another victim of the digital age, where cost-effectiveness?and convenience is the one true king.