More and more I see the evidence that we are moving to a cashless society. Fewer and fewer people carry cash. All we need is plastic – a plastic card! At least our plastic cards are not “single use” – we use them time and time again. I was surprised this week when at the supermarket. I expected the woman in front of us would pay by card but no, she pulled out two $100 notes from her wallet. I suggest following this woman’s example if you are shopping at Aldi or you will pay 0.5% for using a plastic card. It may only be a small amount, but it is all these “small amounts” that add up.
Many businesses pass on the processing fee charged by the banks – a surcharge. It is always a good idea when purchasing items to ask if there is a surcharge for using a credit card. If you are booking a trip with Qantas you will be charged 0.63% for using a debit card, 1.23% for a credit card. However, there is a fee cap (per ticket, per card) of $11.00. You can wave the fee by paying with BPAY, if you pay 7 days before your trip.
I used to carry around a couple of $100 notes, for emergencies, in my wallet. I stopped the habit when the government raised their concern about people stock-piling $100-dollar notes. They floated the idea that the $100 notes could be removed altogether. My concern was that one day I would go to use my $100 note to find it was worthless.
The government is interested in a cashless society because they can track our spending – they can keep across all the transactions. The reason the government are in favour of going cashless is due to the “black economy”. That is, economic activity that is unrecorded and untaxed by the government. Gumtree, advertising goods online, is a perfect example. As are farmer’s markets, art and craft markets and garage sales. No one really knows how much the “black economy” is worth, however it is estimated to be between $30-$40 billion. That’s quite a few $100 notes floating around.
Apparently, the Australian $100 note is popular with tourists. They take it with them out of the country – a souvenir! Much better than the snowdome (also called snow globe) souvenirs. However, if you are one of those people who must have a snowdome, don’t worry! You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to boast of your travels, just buy a few snowdomes online – Acapulco, Ireland, Canada, Florence, the destinations are endless! If you would prefer the “real” holiday destination, then all you do is to put down a deposit or pay for the entire trip using your plastic card. No cash required!
This past week I have thrown caution to the wind and have been tapping my card everywhere I go. It is very convenient when out shopping just to tap the card. I was at the chemist, I think I’ll tap! Meeting friends for coffee, I think I’ll tap! Out for lunch, tap again! Paying for car parking in Brisbane – I think I’ll tap! Clothes shopping at Myer’s, no not for me, for my O&O – a birthday not far away! I went to tap, but the amount was over the tapping limit. Once the transaction was completed they handed me over my purchases in a very stylish paper bag. Tapping is so easy! The difference between me and some other tapper’s is that I know I have money in my account to pay for it!
There is a proposal that $100 and $50 notes include a chip, so the government can track the notes! How will the “black economy” respond? Maybe, a barter system or create their own currency? I like to track our money, but if it remains in a bank account we can’t call it money anymore it is digital currency. It is only money when it is cash, banknotes and coins. At the end of June 2017, there were 1.5 billion banknotes worth $73.6 billion on issue in Australia. With the $100 and $50 banknotes accounting for most banknotes. Where are they all? Certainly not in my wallet.
If we need a role model who lives in a cashless society we need look no further than Queen Elizabeth 11. The Queen never carries cash, apart from a Sunday when she takes either a £5 or £10 note to church as an offering. I am told that the note is precisely folded – banknote origami!
A cashless society is possibly closer than we think. If we end up cashless then I expect we will get used to the idea. It just takes re-education – changing the way we do things, like so many other things we do in life! What do you think of a cashless society? Would it work for you?