Saturday, November 26, 2016
Saturday Morning Musings - forgeries, fees, cash and all that stuff
We have talked here from time to time about the changing role of cash, with some feeling that they should use cash more often (me), some that physical cash should be abolished (kvd). Quite a few of the smaller businesses actually do not accept credit cards or EFTPOS or add a surcharge. The surcharge is almost universal on things like Sydney's Opal card fare card top-up, presumably because the margins are so low. Many businesses also have a minimum amount that you must spend to use EFTPOS.
In all the shops that demand cash, there is one that has developed a unique business model. Certainly I hadn't discovered it before. When I offered my card, they said we only take cash, but we have an ATM machine that you can use, they said..Wishing to avoid the $2.50 charge for use of a foreign ATM, I walked out and found a machine that would not charge.
Thinking, about it, it's an interesting business model. This is high volume fast food business selling mainly a particular type of chicken and chips with a variety of add-ons. In these cases, cash is actually faster, especially if you are in an area where card transaction declines is likely to be greater than average. By using cash, you save a little time and fees. By having an ATM machine, you collect a return from that machine instead of paying out to the banks.
Mind you, ATM machines themselves are in decline in Australia. Australians were an early and enthusiastic adopter of ATM technology because of the convenience of the technology. Now we have all taken to tap and go with enthusiasm for smaller transactions under $100, the present limit.
Growing up, I was an avid reader of science fiction often featuring dystopian worlds. They often featured cameras everywhere used to monitor citizens (tick); the use of cards and electronic systems to record individual activity (tick); constant regulation of what citizens could and couldn't do (tick); and often the abolition or restriction of the use of physical cash (coming tick). Most focus on the way the state used these systems to control, others on what happens when complex systems break down.
I didn't realise at the the time that all this reading was giving me a deep distrust of government, not government in general so much but about the inevitable misuse of power and decline of systems. Of course, the novels themselves often featured brave characters fighting successfully against odds to redress wrongs and overthrow corrupt powers. I am perhaps less sanguine about the second now.
Meantime, there is a practical reason for my continued desire to move to cash despite the forgery. Like many Australians, I cannot really be trusted to control my spending when spend is just so damned easy!