In today’s tech-heavy world, many things that aren’t efficient fall by the wayside. For some, cash may be one of those things as more and more people turn to cards or digital payments. According to Fast Company, purchasing something with cash accounted for 40 percent of all payments in 2012, and that number is quickly falling.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Tropicana Field, home of the Rays baseball team, will no longer be accepting cash payments, switching to credit and debit cards, gift cards, mobile payments, and Rays Cards (which are for season ticket holders only). Eliminating cash purchases from the stadium is designed to cut down on time and increase efficiency in transaction times. Rest easy Reds fans, because Great American Ballpark is still accepting cash for all purchases this season.
While the complete elimination of cash in American consumer culture may take time, you may want to start thinking about what a cash-free lifestyle could look like.
The Background on Cash-Free Spending
Digital spending has been on the rise throughout the last few years. Startup, an entity of Medium, reported that digital spending in 2010 totaled up to 282 billion dollars. In 2018, estimated digital spending jumped to 577 billion dollars.
Many people are turning to card-only purchases because of the cost associated with producing physical money. Startup noted that it costs 1.5 cents to make a penny, which is only valued at one cent. This means that it’s more valuable to make a penny than it is to hold a penny in your hand. Coins are also easily lost and sometimes thrown away, and some wonder whether the production is worth it.
Cash-free spending is typically quicker than using cash in transactions. When using a credit or debit card or a phone with your card information linked to it, you don’t need to hand someone money, and they don’t have to give you the correct amount of change in return. Instead, you swipe your card, insert your card’s chip, or tap your phone to pay for what you intend to purchase.
There is also an advantage to cash-free spending when it comes to the government. Whenever you spend money with a card or some other form of digital transaction, there’s a paper trail that is trackable. If you purchase something with cash, there isn’t any evidence that you bought something. Having that paper trail will make it easier for governments to see what you’re spending money on, and the hope is that it will decrease any illegal activity happening.
If you’re considering making the switch to cash-free living, you’ll be using credit or debit cards primarily. You can set up your phone, both iOS and Android, to become your wallet by setting up Google Pay or Apple Pay and putting your cards on file with your phone. There are also apps you can use if your friends owe you money or you owe your friends money. Venmo, PayPal, Squarecash, and Zelle are all apps (or apps and websites) you can use to send money to friends and receive money digitally.
What Considerations Do I Need to Become Cash-Free?
Once you decide to eliminate cash from your spending routines, you’ll mainly be using gift cards, prepaid cards, credit and debit cards, and your phone that will have those card numbers saved on them so you can pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay. Once you make that commitment, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Technology Glitches and Failures
Even though you use different kinds of technology day in and day out, there are times where technology fails us. If you plan on using your phone to pay for items, be sure to keep your cards on you at all times. You never know when something will happen with your phone that will prevent you from paying. Be sure your phone always has a sufficiently charged battery, as a dead phone battery means you can’t use your phone’s credit card storing system to pay for what you need.
Beware of Hackers
While Apple Pay and Google Pay have ways of encrypting your credit card number to prevent hackers from stealing your card numbers, it’s always a possibility. If you have no alternative spending and someone drains your accounts, you may be stuck. However, there are federal laws on your side. The Federal Trade Commission has different fees you’ll have to pay depending on the type of card, how long it takes you to report a stolen card, whether someone stole the actual card or just the card number, and other criteria.
Do I Need a Smartphone for a Cash-Free World?
For technology like Apple Pay or Google Pay, you’ll need a smartphone, as your phone stores your credit or debit card number to use it for purchases. However, Recode notes that payment programs like Venmo and PayPal have websites that can be accessed from a computer and allow you to make payments over the web instead of through a smartphone. That way, if you’re wary about using a smartphone, you can still make the transition to using digital transactions versus cash payments. And if you plan on just using credit or debit cards as many people do, you don’t need a smartphone since you’re swiping your card or inserting the chip into the reader.
How Safe is Going Cash-Free?
On a typical case, cash-free living is safe. To make purchases with Apple Pay or Google Pay, Popular Science says that your phone will prompt you to enter your PIN or will ask you for your fingerprint to scan to make sure it’s you making the purchase and not someone pretending to be you. If you’re using your computer to make payments through Venmo or PayPal, you can set up two-factor authorization for your login. You can also set up the accounts to require anyone who is logging into your account to answer security questions. As long as you remember the answers, you’ll be able to access your accounts at any time.
While some countries have taken steps to become cash-free, it’s likely it will be a few more years, at least, until the United States becomes truly cash-free. Until then, start practicing some cash-free methods to get in the groove should the elimination of cash come sooner rather than later.