Apple Pay is One Step Closer to a Cashless Society - and Greece Will Show Us How It's Done

Apple Pay is One Step Closer to a Cashless Society - and Greece Will Show Us How It's Done

On a trip to Greece, one of my work colleagues was involved in a minor road collision. He stepped out of his hire car and prepared to exchange insurance and contact details with the other driver. Instead, he was offered a watermelon.

Having grown up in Greece, this story didn't seem at all unusual. In fact, it felt pretty standard. Because in Greece, we do things differently.

You will have heard about the current situation in Greece. Last week, I wrote about how a "no" vote in the referendum would result in a Modern Greek Tragedy. Now, sadly, it feels like the whole world has learned the Greek word for "No" - ókhi.

The worst thing about the referendum result is that it's still not clear just what's going to happen next. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras apparently still doesn't have a plan, and a new deadline's been set: Greece must accept a bailout deal, or else.

Or else what? The country's banks will collapse, and the wheels will be set in motion for Greece's exit from the Eurozone - the "Grexit" - with all its grim implications.

One of the biggest consequences of a Grexit would be that Greece would abandon the Euro and return to the good old drachma. As to what will happen in the dark days between the two currencies is anyone's guess, but it doesn't look good, does it?

At the moment, Greece has no money. So, by extension, neither do the Greeks. Should we return to using our own currency, inflation and the cost of living will both spike - in the short term, at least.

But remember, this is a country where motorists hand out watermelons in lieu of insurance details. Hold on to that thought, just for a moment.

I work in digital marketing, and everyone's currently getting quite excited about the introduction of Apple Pay. This is a service that's due to launch in the UK next week, and it's designed to allow for you to make contactless payments, in shops and online, using your iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad.

Pundits are talking about how services like Apple Pay are a step towards a cashless society. No longer will we walk around with pockets full of coins and notes, which only ever symbolised money anyway. Instead, everything will be digital, secure, contactless, and untraceable.

While listening to these discussions, I cannot help but draw parallels with what's going on in my country. For Greece, too, will likely soon become a cashless society - if only temporarily. But rather than relying on apps to get by, we'll most likely revert to an informal and unregulated economy of trade.

Just like watermelons might be exchanged after road collisions, there may soon be a situation where food is exchanged for services, and services are offered in exchange for food.

Historically, Greece has led the way when it comes to drama, philosophy, and democracy. Now, it seems, that Greece is going to show the world how a cashless society might work.

The only difference is that, whereas Apple Pay users will choose to go cashless because it's more convenient, Greek people will be forced to go cashless simply because they have no alternative.


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