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From cash to digital payment

How digital payment can become a dream come true.

Sep. 20, 2019|Romy Simon
opinionromy

Past

In the past everything was easier, wasn’t it? I put my wallet in my baggy trousers pocket and financed my day with it - buying rolls, using phone booths, going to the supermarket, making deposits and paying my after-work beer in the pub around the corner. Having few alternatives can be a great luxury sometimes.

Now some of you might exclaim that this is nonsense. After all, nowadays I can do all this also with my smartphone, my ATM card, via online banking and online shopping in a much easier and time-saving way. Do we all have more time and enjoy our after-work beer earlier, in case we still know our colleagues by name, after all? I am not so sure.

I like to shop anonymously

I must admit that initially I also disregarded this trend towards smart payment. I like to shop anonymously and not being addressed by my name on the card by the cashier - unless I am a loyal customer and simply acquainted for such a long time that we are on a first-name basis. Of course this is another quality.

I also like to quickly retrieve the bill from my pocket and not having to wait for a device or the terminal that yet again crashed. Even if the patience of cash fans like me is often put to the test when it comes to elders with a thing for paying the exact amount down to the last cent.

I also love to know for sure that today I already spent my withdrawn 50 euros and to realize what is left with every glance at my wallet. And honestly, the idea that some day when buying three bottles of wine, the cashier might point out that the card does not authorize the payment, as the health insurance fixed a limit for the purchase of alcohol or sugar-containing goods to control our health, is frightening and associations with 1984 by Orwell are inevitable.

I do not get around paying digitally

Despite all advantages of cash, I do not get around paying digitally, either - my rent is debited from my bank account via SEPA direct debit, online banking has become indispensable, I paid my daughter’s vehicle that I bought on eBay Classifieds via PayPal, after registering and entering my address and personal details I paid the online shop with Klarna, the film on iTunes by the credit card that is recorded in my Apple account, the restaurant visit by ATM card and I was indeed a bit indignant when my hairdresser asked me for cash and it thus took me 15 desperate minutes to reach the next ATM with the aid of Google Maps.

So I am also trapped in modern payment processes. I guess Google, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube and my supermarket know me very well, even though I frequently try to confuse Google by using the network together with my husband and using different search patterns.

Thus I realized: I also try to trade comfort for security and for quite some time I have not been able to assume anonymity anymore when shopping in stores or online. Now that more and more persons in front of me in the supermarket hold their phone close to the contactless and this time working device, I realize that it is merely a matter of time before I also be part as a ‘late adopter’.

What has improved?

However, I would like to get back to my initial question - So have I changed for the better in recent years, can I shop and pay in a faster and easier way? When having a look at the list of stored passwords in my phone for online shops, subscriptions, cards, accesses etc., I increasingly doubt it and some uncertainty remains. What if I actually had to remember every last password? And what if, due to an update, all passwords were deleted?

And let’s be honest, who likes to enter his or her payment details or personal data on the internet into any forms and has a good feeling about it. Or who is even pleased that also the 10th online clothing store asks for your contact details for customer care.

When I now hear that the numbers of bills can be registered at withdrawal and purchase, I certainly lose more and more arguments for cash.

Even cash fans face the facts; bills are already not accepted, anymore, card payments are often preferred, Northern Europeans reduce the ATM density and barely pay cash. And whenever I want to withdraw money, it feels like 50% of all ATMs are out of order…

The future

Then again I dwell on thoughts and imagine what it would be like to be able to pay everything just as easily as in cash:

That would indeed be… a digital cash dream come true. And I would certainly enjoy my after-work beer with my colleagues earlier and of course I would also pay it offline by app.

translated by Susanne on Feb. 23, 2020
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