After losing her debit card, Australian journalists Brigid Delaney decided not to renew it and go cash-only. The decision came after she realised she had become an all too enthusiastic user of tap-n-go technology, regularly causing her to fall into overdraft.
If using a credit card was previously synonym to large purchases – like airline tickets or hotel reservations – since contactless payments became mainstream, Brigid’s monthly bill shifter to a collection of small purchases that add up to more than the sum of all parts. In fact, since she made the move to retrieve her weekly cash allowance at the bank branch, Brigid says “I find I’m spending less because I am not just mindlessly tapping my card every time I want to buy something.”
Studies have shown that the dematerialisation of payments comes at a cost as it distances consumers from their earnings even further, sometimes losing sight of the value of money. In Brigid Delaney’s country, Australia, 92% of payments are made with contactless transactions. Professor of Marketing and Behavioural Psychology at Sydney University Donnel Briley confirms that people spend up to 50% more when using intangible payments and other experts believe that teaching kids the value of money through cash can actually be beneficial for their future financial management skills.
Going cash-only is not always easy, explains Brigid, as electronic payments have been creeping into all aspects of daily life. Indeed, when choosing to be cardless, time spent in queues unfortunately skyrockets as a growing number of services switch to alternative payments.
But she is pleased with her decision as she now closes the month with a healthy bank account and greater visibility on how her earnings were spent. “The move to a cashless economy is happening now without much questioning of whether or not it’s a good thing (it’s certainly good for banks).” She writes, “But there is a subtle psychological benefit to using cash,” because, when you don’t the transaction is “squeezed into a split second of time – the time it takes to “tap”. And in doing this, something is being devalued.”