Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cash Out?

Back in March, we skied in Plagne Bellecote.
Not a very remarkable or innovative sort of place.
So I was surprised when, at a supermarket checkout, my change came showering out of a machine instead of being handed over by the cashier.
First time I have seen such an arrangement.

You also feed your coins into it, but notes still pass via the human interface.
They must have had a good salesperson pass through, as several of the (not many) shops there had the same device.

Yesterday, on a Brompton bike ride, I stopped for coffee & cake in a patisserie in Neuhof.
An even less remarkable & innovative place, to put it kindly...
And there, standing imperiously & incongruously in the middle of the counter, was the same "CashGuard" I had seen in Bellecote.

CashGuard's website says they are Scandinavian, have been in business for 20 years & sold over 16000 systems, so maybe I have just not been looking...
They point out advantages in hygiene, security, speed & accuracy.
Not mentioning that cashiers no longer need to be able to count...
I suppose most of what they say is broadly true.

But all of it will be rendered obsolete if Mastercard (& Visa?) get their way.

They just changed my credit card for a new one with contactless, PIN-less operation ( for amounts under €25.
Aimed at replacing cash for even the smallest transactions.
At participating stores only, of course, which so far is none.

Obviously, the possible success of this venture depends on them being willing & able to operate the system without charging shop-keepers too much.
Time will tell.

Although I strongly dislike the duopoly of Mastercard & Visa, I have to believe this is a more elegant solution than CashGuard's.

And hides a lot less croissants.

Parting thot: "The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled." - J K Galbraith

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