Why I Love Cash and Hate Contactless

As someone who regularly calls for innovation and necessary disruption in the financial sector it might seem strange, what I am about to say. I don't like contactless cards.

As someone who regularly calls for innovation and necessary disruption in the financial sector it might seem strange, what I am about to say.

I don't like contactless cards.

Don't like 'em. Won't use 'em.

I like cash, I love cash, cash makes me happy and cash will forever be king, but if I must I'll enter a pin number into the payment machine.

If there is someone at the front of the queue at Pret insisting on paying with cash, and slowing the cashier down those extra 10 seconds requesting a receipt, chances are it's me. I guess I am an old fashioned girl at heart especially when it comes to my money.

There are 40 million of these cards out there and no sign of a slowdown so why haven't I embraced this speedy and convenient payment method?

For three and a half really good reasons;

* I'm worried about fraud and identity theft. I'm not a Luddite, I love technology, Blackbullion is, after all, an education technology company. Technology rocks. But I can imagine so many ways these cards can be pose a risk of fraud and if I can think of it than so could a criminal mastermind!

Thieves with gizmos randomly tapping handbags in the big cities or on the London tube London, deducting only £5 from each person, could bag them thousands a day. Are you likely to notice this on your bank statement? And if you did notice are you likely to call the bank and tell them? And if you do will they refund it?

* Speaking of the tube turns out that hundreds of people have reported that their debit card was incorrectly debited to pay for their journey. This means that people who buy a weekly/monthly pass are being double charged. Since you can now use your contactless card to pay for your journey be wary of having your Oyster card and your debit card in the same wallet. In fact TfL advise keeping cards separate and deciding which to use before starting your journey...

* Mistakes happen everywhere, of course, but lots of stores don't issue a receipt when you pay with contactless unless you ask for one. So how do you know if there was an overcharge or if you have been charged for someone else's meal, as almost happened to me recently? And again if you later notice it in your bank statement how will you prove that you only bought a £2 coffee and not the £4 sandwich?

But mostly I worry about the psychology of it all.

The further away we are from the matter the more abstract if becomes. We see it in social media - the bullying, the trolling, the behaviour which would never be contemplated in the real world is acceptable online because we are removed from the reality and the people to whom we cause pain.

The further we get from handing over cash the more abstract the idea of spending.

Consider the act of taking a £20 note out of your pocket and handing it over to a cashier for an afternoon coffee. It feels like real money - you might even take a second to consider whether you really need the coffee or do you just want it. Whether this is how you are going to break that £20.

One step removed is the credit card. It doesn't feel like real money but consider what happens when you need to type the long card number in order to make a purchase. It's a hassle, you need the digits, and the security code at the back, the expiry date and then maybe your bank asks you to authorise the payment. Four steps, four opportunities for your self control to kick in and whisper "do you really want this jacket - didn't you want to save for a mortgage?"

This split second of contemplation is exactly why Amazon allow one click spending, it's why Paypal is so prolific and its why everyone offers to store your details "for your ease and convenience". The less you think about the purchase the more likely you are to make the purchase.

The further removed you are from the matter the more abstract it becomes. The less real the spend. What could be more removed from cash then holding your wallet over a reader?

So I don't like contactless. It is hard enough to feel in control of our finance. It is hard enough to control our urges and taper our habits. Suddenly those 10 seconds it takes to enter a pin number seem like a great use of time


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