(Updated: July 2015)
Today I was chosen to live amongst the enlightened economic drivers of our time. Blessed by the financial gods of Capital One, I’ve joined the swiping elite. I have no plans, however, to join the increasing number of consumers who willingly go through their lives tearing through their paycheck and relying on their plastic. No sir, I am prepared. Strategically positioned on the front of my card is a lovely picture of my mother. A woman of virtue, an anchor that will serve to keep my inner consumer in check. Next time PacSun throw a summer sale, her beautiful voice of reason will resonate in my head and invoke clarity and better judgement. Something like that anyway.
Alarmingly, my mother’s virtuousness might be called upon more and more over the coming years. Daddy’s money is, for some reason, no longer making its way into my bank account, and more importantly, the way in which we use our cash is changing.
Yes, cash is nice to hold and it makes me appear infinitely more attractive, but before long, cash will be obsolete. History has shown that currency changes over time. From barter trade to shiny metals, salt and most recently, cash, it’s inevitable that the electronic age will bring with it a new electronic currency. Mastercard have recently held a campaign promoting cash-free living, inviting potential interns to develop their ideas that will help integrate us into a cash-free world. A quick look around and it is difficult to see where cash might be a necessity for anything. In the eyes of Mastercard, Visa and American Express, it would be ideal if we burned all the green stuff and went plastic. Owe a friend some money? There’s an app for that. Need to tip a stripper? There’s an app for that, too. Paper money is there to be stolen, lost, or ruined in the washing machine after leaving it in the pocket of your favourite pants.
This transition is exciting for western folk – those with bank accounts, credit cards and smartphones, but what about half of the world adults today who don’t have access to electronic forms of money. According to the Economist, more than 60% of adults in the developing world have no access to a bank. So before burning all your Benjamins and parade around the fire, spare a thought for those in the world today who still rely on cash to function.
We become attached to the cash in our wallets which often makes it difficult to part with. Money we don’t see is easy to dispose of. That’s why casinos deal in chips and not cash. Throwing a piece of plastic at the dealer is far easier than splitting ties with your $20. Be conscious of all your swiping. If you’re in America, sign up for Mint.com. Check your online banking and be sure to maintain smart swiping habits. It may be difficult when Macy’s slash the price on One Direction t-shirts. Just do your best.