I don’t know what it means, the disappearance of money.
In many respects, this is great. The shift to non-paper and coin-based transactions.
Tap and go.
No worn-out trouser pockets.
I think of homeless people and wonder how they will get by; last week I saw a busker at King’s Cross Station – he had a contactless one-pound payment machine – I guess that is the future.
It is acknowledged that it is much easier to spend money when you don’t use cash; money from credit and debit cards bypasses that part of your brain which urges restraint (mix this with alcohol and anything can happen). When you don’t even have to type-in (or remember) a PIN the likelihood is, the gates will swing open more widely. This is ace if you are a retailer, supermarket or clothes shop – I don’t know how the Salvation Army will make ends meet.
I don’t really want to venture into the debate as to whether homeless people should be given money; I am far too ignorant of that world to discuss. It is however a reality that you can nowadays honestly say, ‘Afraid I haven’t any change,’ without fibbing. You can even feel good about yourself, you run the internal dialogue, ‘Well, if I had a few quid, I’d have given him some, but I don’t, I just have cards.’
I am sure the manufacturers of contactless payment systems were just looking at a means of increasing efficiency and convenience for consumers, it isn’t clear what impact they will have on those selling the Big Issue or playing accordion on the high-street.
Today I observed something else.
I was standing next to a guy; I don’t know if he was homeless although he had asked me for change, as I answered apologetically that I didn’t, he then asked the next person walking past only to apologise himself, half way through the request when he realised that that guy was homeless too. (As to whether the second guy was pleased he was mistaken for someone who wasn’t homeless, I don’t know.)
Again, I am saying homeless; I don’t know if this is the case. There is a certain street-hardiness that people who ask for money have; often dirty hands, tanned faces and a look of despair and bitterness.
I guess life in many respects is getting harder for everyone; the cost of living rises as does inflation and wages stagnate. Austerity miniaturises the state’s largesse and we all look to an uncertain future. You could argue, if the world is shrinking, why should those seeking charity be left-out.
What a rubbish situation.