Cash only

In yesterday’s post (see Appointment in Holloway), I mentioned that we had had lunch in Hope Cafe in Holloway Road. While eating, I happened to glance towards the counter and see a notice above the till. It read

CASH
ONLY

This surprised me enough to draw Tigger’s attention to it.

“Do you have any cash?” she enquired.

Fortunately, yes, I do still carry some cash with me for just such occcasions, increasingly rare though they may be. I duly paid our bill, handing over a couple of banknotes and receiving coins in change. Doing this, gave me a slightly strange feeling, as though I were participating in an arcane ceremony or acting a role on stage.

Electrronic payments have so far become the norm that when someone does choose to pay in cash, you remark on it. A customer ahead of us at the supermarket the other day paid cash and I found myself becoming impatient at the time it was taking for the assistant to check the notes and then count out the change.

Many shops and businesses no longer even accept cash and display a notice of contrary meaning to the one cited above:

CASH NOT
ACCEPTED

Electronic payments were already becoming increasingly popular before the pandemic but this gave “e-money” a boost because of fears (exaggerated, as current research seems to suggest) that Covid-19 infection could be spread on objects that change hands such as mail and banknotes.

I write this without any smugness because it took me a while to convert to electronic payments. Not that I had any moral or philosophical objections to it but rather that I just kept on paying in cash as I always had. Eventually, it occurred to me that if I used my credit card, it would save me those frequent visits to the shrinking numbers of ATMs to replenish my purse. For several months, then, I used my credit card, dutifully typiing in the PIN for larger amounts.

Then, one day, there came that “What if?” moment when I looked at my mobile and wondered whether I should be using Apple Pay. I went on thinking about it until at last I decided I had better try it out for myself.

To be honest, I made a mess of things the first few times I tried to use it and managed to make myself feel foolish as I struggled to make it work with an impatient queue of customers waiting behind me. In the end, hard though it is to admit it now, I gave up on Apple Pay and reverted to my trusty credit card.

As is often the case with new things, it was Tigger who showed me the way. I watched her using Apple pay in a shop one day and thought “Oh, so that’s how you do it.” The next time I needed to pay for something I tried Apple Pay again. Since then, I haven’t looked back.

As well as using Apple Pay in shops and on public transport, when buying things online I now tend to do so on my mobile in the hope that the vendor accepts Apple Pay, as this saves the tedious business of typing in your credit card details and your name and address. One click and it’s done.

Paying cash in the cafe yesterdaay was a strange return to a world I thought we had left behind, that of the past where, to misquote J.P. Hartley, they do things differently. Cash is not yet dead, of course, and will going on being used for a while but I have little doubt that for day-to-day transactions, its days are numbered.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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