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As more and more people move their money in the cloud, could cash become the outcast’s currency?
It’s a tough question, not the kind of thing you can easily analyze. Reader Sandi Kurtz shared a conversation she’s had with her family on the topic in response to my column about the uncertain future of wallets. I’ve bolded some provocative segments, and added links where appropriate.
At 57, I’m in the cohort that still uses cash regularly, and feels a bit odd if I don’t have some with me. I have a couple of credit cards, as well as the ubiquitous debit card, but use checks to pay most of my monthly bills. Online shopping has increased the number of transactions I make with a credit card.
My kid is almost 20, in his second year of college. He and his cohort have been dealing with money in the form of gift cards since they were quite small (the default birthday gift — a gift card to a bookstore). Growing up, he got allowance from us in cash, but many of his friends’ families did it all through their bank accounts. He got a credit card to go away to school (he’s in the U.K., and we wanted to make sure he could get home in an emergency) but most of his transactions now are with his debit card.
Last week, for the first time ever, I walked into a store and bought something with nothing.
I was at the shoe counter at Nordstrom, a pair of Under Armour sneakers boxed and ready to go. I’d forgotten my Nordstrom notes — coupons the store mails customers who use its credit card — and asked the sales associate to look them up. He did.
“Do you want to buy this with your Nordstrom card?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, opening my wallet.
“Don’t bother,” he said, looking at his screen and pressing a button. “You’re all set.”
Back home, I pulled out my wallet and looked inside. There was my license, the credit card I didn’t need, a bunch of business cards and gift cards I forgot I had and, tucked in the back, some stray $1 bills I didn’t remember putting there.
It’s hard to imagine a world without cash. It’s harder to imagine a world without wallets. But the way things are going, you have to wonder if we’re destined to lose both.More